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What is Pragmatics?

Pragmatic language, or the rules we follow when we communicate in social sitautions, is broken down into three major skills: using language for different reasons, changing language for the listener or situation, and following rules for conversation and storytelling. Pragmatic language is necessary to have effective and meaningful communication with others.


Pragmatics is the appropriate use of language within social situations. Examples of pragmatic functions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • joint referencing: focusing of attention by all communication partners on the same objects

  • joint action: participation of all communication partners in the same action/activity
  • using toys functionally

  • making appropriate eye contact

  • attending to speaker

  • initiating communication/play

  • maintaining topic of conversation

  • taking turns within play/conversation 

We use pragmatic language daily. These skills are important in communicating our thoughts, feelings and ideas.  

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