Linguistics is the scientific study of human languages. In its study of the nature of languages, it puts into account the scientific processes of observation, formulation of hypothesis, experimentation and formulation of theory.
The aim of linguistic analysis is to be able to find out competence (the efficiency of language users), acquisition (how a language is internalised) and performance (how a language is put in use).
Linguists concentrate on how language is used originally; not how it should be.
Six Branches of Linguistics
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that has to do with how a speech sound is produced, received or perceived. It has to do with the study of the properties or description of a speech sound. The English Language for example has forty-four speech sounds. Phonetics relates to these distinct sounds, one at a time.
Phonology has to do with the combination or structure of speech sounds. In phonology, there could be the description of syllable structures.
Morphology is the study of morphemes. Morpheme is the smallest meaningful linguistic unit of a language.
Syntax has to do with the organisation of morphemes to form words, words to form larger constructions which we refer to as groups (phrases), and groups to form sentences. It has to do with the correctness of the arrangement of words in relation to the rules that govern that language.
Semantics has to do with the meaning of words, images, or anything that has to with linguistics; just anything meaningful within the ambit of language.
Pragmatics has to do with meaning too. The difference between semantics and pragmatics is context. Pragmatics operates within the confines of context (setting, participants, etc).