There is a high level of agreement among theoreticians today on the basic content of the defi nition of communicative competence. However, it has been often pointed out in the literature on language testing that before undertaking research on communicative competence it is essential to examine and clearly determine the construct of communicative competence, namely, to formulate a defi nition which will enable a simple operationalization of that construct. This paper presents in brief the process of defi ning communicative competence which started in the late 1960s. Several important defi nitions and models of communicative competence are presented in two separate sections. On the basis of these defi nitions and models, there is a discussion in the fi nal section on the manner of defi ning communicative competence which is relevant for the scientifi c research project «English in Croatia».