Social Pragmatic Theory, also known as Social Communication Theory, is a theory that focuses on the social aspects of language use and communication. It was first introduced by social psychologist Herbert Clark and philosopher Thomas Brennan in the early 1990s. This theory emphasizes how language is used to convey meaning in a social context.

What Is Social Pragmatic Theory?

According to Social Pragmatic Theory, language is more than just a set of rules and structures. It is a tool for communication that enables people to interact with each other effectively. Language users are not just passive recipients of information but active participants in the communication process.

The Basics of Social Pragmatic Theory

Social Pragmatic Theory posits that there are two key components involved in communication: the message itself and the context in which it is communicated. The message includes both linguistic and non-linguistic elements such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. The context includes factors such as the relationship between the speakers, their shared knowledge, and the social situation they are in.

The Role of Context

Context plays an important role in shaping how language is used. Speakers adjust their language use depending on who they are talking to and what they are talking about. For example, a conversation between two friends will be different from a conversation between a teacher and student.

The Importance of Shared Knowledge

Shared knowledge also plays an integral role in communication according to Social Pragmatic Theory. Speakers must have some shared knowledge with their listeners for successful communication to occur. This shared knowledge can include things like cultural norms, shared experiences, or prior conversations.

Implications for Language Learning

Social Pragmatic Theory has important implications for language learning. Learners must not only acquire linguistic structures but also learn how to use them appropriately in different social contexts. This means that language learners must become familiar with the social norms and conventions of the language they are learning.


In conclusion, Social Pragmatic Theory is a valuable framework for understanding how language is used in social contexts. It emphasizes the importance of context and shared knowledge in successful communication. As such, it has important implications for language learning and can help learners become more effective communicators in their Target language.