Pragmatics is a type of philosophy that studies the use of language in different situations. It involves a variety of factors such as context, social norms, and situational conditions that affect how language is used.
Unlike semantics, which is the study of the meaning of words and sentences, pragmatics looks at how language is used in a specific context. It focuses on how people communicate with others in real life, and it teaches students to take cultural, social, and situational factors into account when speaking English.
The Gricean view
A major philosophical approach to pragmatics is based on the work of Paul Grice, who first introduced the idea that language is not just about conveying a literal meaning. Instead, it is also about expressing the natural meaning of a sign.
In order to understand the meaning of a sign, listeners need to track certain syntactic clues that will help them interpret what the speaker is saying. This is called managing the flow of reference. Other important frameworks in pragmatics include relevance theory and implicature.