This chapter provides a definition, and theories and terminology that are central to the field of second language (L2) pragmatics. It describes key theoretical models to explain L2 communicative competence (Bachman & Palmer, 1996, 2010; Canale & Swain, 1980; Hymes, 1972b) and its relationship to L2 pragmatic competence as well as SLA theories (e.g., the noticing hypothesis, language socialization theory, the interaction approach) that provide theoretical underpinnings for L2 pragmatics research. The chapter takes the approach of an historical overview of L2 pragmatics research, and discusses research questions that are commonly asked in L2 pragmatics studies.