Syntax is the study of how words are arranged in sequence, and which sequences are well-formed.
Semantics is the study of the literal interpretation of words – how they connect to entities in the world – and of sentences.
Pragmatics is the study of language in its social context.
In real life, utterances mean more than the literal interpretation of what was said. Pragmatics deals with how I can deliver a message, and how you can comprehend its meaning in the face of apparent ambiguities.
For example, the sentence “He has a knife!” has different meanings in a dark back alley and in a cooking class. “It’s cold in here” may be a comment on the room temperature, a request to have my coat back or a hint that I would like the window to be closed.
The meaning of language depends on the manner of communication, place, time, common knowledge, and other circumstances.
Lets Start our journey into Pragmatics with some small talk.
Pragmatics I: The Relevance of Context and Speech Acts in the course Introduction to Language by Detmar Meurers