• What are Pragmatics?

    Pragmatics is the social use of language.

    Pragmatics involve three major communication skills:

    • Using language for different purposes, such as
      • greeting (e.g.,  hello, goodbye)
      • informing (e.g., I'm going to get a cookie)
      • demanding (e.g., Give me a cookie)
      • promising (e.g., I'm going to get you a cookie)
      • requesting (e.g., I would like a cookie, please)
    • Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation, such as
      • talking differently to a baby than to an adult
      • giving background information to an unfamiliar listener
      • speaking differently in a classroom than on a playground
    • Following rules for conversations and storytelling, such as
      • taking turns in conversation
      • introducing topics of conversation
      • staying on topic
      • rephrasing when misunderstood
      • how to use verbal and noverbal signals
      • how close to stand to someone when speaking
      • how to use facial expressions and eye contact

    These rules may vary across cultures and within cultures. It is important to understand the rules of your communication partner.

    An individual with pragmatic problems may:

    • say inappropriate or unrelated things during conversations
    • tell stories in a disorganized way
    • have little variety in language use