What is Pragmatics?

Pragmatic language is the ability to understand and use communication skills for social interactions. It involves understanding non-literal meanings of words, interpreting non-verbal body language and utilizing appropriate sentence structure in conversations. It can be used to communicate with others in a variety of ways, such as answering questions about characters’ intentions and motivations, or participating in reciprocal play.

A child may exhibit pragmatic language difficulties if they have difficulty with comprehension: specifically, being able to demonstrate an understanding of character intent and motivation when listening to or reading a story, as well as answering questions related to specific personalities/characters in stories based on their actions. Additionally, individuals who have a hard time with comprehension may also struggle with demonstrating and using other language skills: such as being able to initiate conversation, using effective sentence structure and staying on topic.

The term “pragmatics” can be a confusing one, as many different concepts are associated with it. The following is a list of some important terms that are often associated with pragmatics and can be helpful in understanding what it is all about:


For most people, the term “context” has a straightforward meaning. It refers to the context of the utterance, which is determined by a combination of linguistic features (sentence length, number of words per sentence, etc.) and extralinguistic facts about the speech act, such as the speakers’ past and present utterances, their contexts, the subject matter of the utterance, etc.

There is, however, a more complex and multifaceted concept of context in the field of pragmatics. The field of pragmatism, which originated in the United States during the latter quarter of the nineteenth century, encompasses a number of different philosophical approaches to context, with some of those approaches having significant influence on non-philosophers in fields such as law, education, politics, sociology, psychology, and literary criticism. The goal of the various forms of pragmatics is to understand and explain how context affects linguistic interpretation, and what types of linguistic acts are relevant to context-dependent linguistic interpretation.