Opening the 9-volume-series Handbooks of Pragmatics, this handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the foundations of pragmatics. It covers the central theories as well as concepts and topics characteristic of mainstream pragmatics, i.e. the most widespread approach to the ways and means of using language in authentic social contexts. The articles provide both state of the art reviews and critical evaluations of research in pragmatics. Topics are thus not only considered within their scholarly context but are also critically evaluated from current perspectives.