Pragmatics Examples


Pragmatic means practical or logical. If someone calls you pragmatic, they mean that you tend to think in terms of the practical or logical rather than the ideal situation.

The term pragmatics is used in contrast to semantics. Semantics has to do with the actual definition of a word or text. Pragmatics refers to how words are used in a practical sense. Words can mean different things, and often the same word can mean something different depending on the context in which it is used. Words can also carry symbolic meaning and in practice, or practical situations, we will apply our understanding of symbols as we read or listen to others.

A pragmatic view means that one doesn't think in ideal or abstract terms. For example, words that attempt to explain abstract concepts-freedom, beauty-have no meaning in and of themselves. Instead, someone who looks at pragmatics would attempt to understand how they are being used in a given, concrete, practical situation. In other words, they look at how we apply these words in practical, everyday language.

Examples of Pragmatics:

1. Will you crack open the door? I am getting hot.

Semantically, the word "crack" would mean to break, but pragmatically we know that the speaker means to open the door just a little to let in some air.

2. I heart you!

Semantically, "heart" refers to an organ in our body that pumps blood and keeps us alive. However, pragmatically, "heart" in this sentence means "love"-hearts are commonly used as a symbol for love, and to "heart" someone has come to mean that you love someone.

3. If you eat all of that food, it will make you bigger!

Semantically, "bigger" in this sentence would mean larger than you are currently. Think about how this sentence, pragmatically, would mean something different depending on the context. If it is said to a young child, pragmatically, it would mean to grow bigger. If it is said to a grown person who is already obese, it would mean something entirely different.

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Grammar Examples