The following describes a study of the acquisition of ‘pragmatic’ structures by Italian children. PRAGMATICS refers to the study of the use of language in context, by real speakers and hearers in real situations. It therefore fails to meet the definition of ‘competence’ outlined by Chomsky, emphasizing the ideal speaker abstracted from particular situations, and perhaps for this reason has been neglected in psycholinguistic studies. However, there has been a renewed interest in pragmatics in recent semantic theory, and a number of proposals have been made regarding a formal representation for pragmatic structures. Three major positions can be distinguished, all of which in varying degrees separate pragmatics from the propositional content itself, as a set of procedures and assumptions for the appropriate use of propositions. Interpretive semanticists, such as Jackendoff (1972), place pragmatics entirely outside the syntactic component, in a separate and heterogeneous semantic component. Fillmore (1968) and Weinreich (1963) offer proposals for a separate ‘modality component’ which operates on a more articulated semantic structure. For example, in the sentence Could John have hit the ball?, the proposition ‘John hit the ball’ is spelled out in terms of the predicate ‘hit’, the two arguments, and the semantic relations holding among them. The modality component would contain simply a set of unanalysed symbols like QUESTION, CONDITIONAL and PAST PERFECT that are applied to the proposition. A third approach to pragmatics is offered in natural logic models like those of Parisi & Antinucci (1973) or Lakoff (forthcoming). In these models, as contrasted with the above modality component, all the meaning underlying a sentence is broken into minimal elements. Thus the above sentence is described not only with the nuclear proposition ‘John hit the ball’, but with a performative proposition describing the speaker's interrogative intention (i.e. ‘I ask you…’) and with various presuppositions1 describing the conditions that are necessary for the sentence to be appropriate. For example, instead of an unanalysed symbol for conditional, there is an ancillary proposition describing the fact that the central proposition is not necessarily true at time X. This latter approach was of more heuristic value for a developmental study of pragmatics because a representation is available for all the meaning underlying a given sentence. For example, the articulated presupposition ‘Proposition X is not necessarily true at time X’ is more easily translatable into psychological terms than an unanalysed symbol like ‘Conditional’.