Language Delays

A language delay can be either a receptive, expressive, or mixed language delay.

A receptive language delay is considered a delay in understanding spoken language, such as when a child has difficulty carrying out multi-step directions, or when a child may answer a question with an answer that does not pertain to the question.

An expressive language delay may refer to a delay in putting words together, or a delay at a higher level, in which the child may not ask questions or use an age-appropriate sentence structure.

The majority of language delays, however, are combined, or a mixed receptive-expressive language delay, in which both comprehension and speaking are compromised at some level. While a delay refers to a time factor, such as “my child’s expressive language skills are six months behind his chronological age,” a deficit refers to a language impairment that occur for either reasons, such as secondary to Autism, neurological disorders, or a Specific Language Impairment that is not-otherwise specified.

No matter the language delay type or severity, your child can and will benefit from individualized language therapy that addresses the language problem and solves it through evidence-based therapy practice.

Pediatric Speech, Language & Learning Center

Language Development Chart


Age of Child  Typical Language Development
18 Months
  • Has vocabulary of approximately 5-20 words
  • Vocabulary made up chiefly of nouns
  • Some echolalia (repeating a word or phrase over and over)
  • Much jargon with emotional content
  • Is able to follow simple commands
2 Years
  • Can name a number of objects common to his surroundings
  • Is able to use at least two prepositions, usually chosen from the following: in, on, under
  • Combines words into a short sentence-largely noun-verb combinations (mean) length of sentences is given as two words
  • Approximately 2/3 of what child says should be intelligible
    Vocabulary of approximately 150-300 words
  • Can use two pronouns correctly: I, me, you, although me and I are often confused
  • My and mine are beginning to emerge
  • Responds to such commands as “show me your eyes (nose, mouth, hair)”
3 Years
  • Use pronouns I, you, me correctly
  • Is using some plurals and past tenses
  • Knows at least three prepositions, usually in, on, under
  • Knows chief parts of body and should be able to indicate these if not name
  • Handles three word sentences easily
  • Has in the neighborhood of 900-1000 words
  • About 90% of what child says should be intelligible
  • Verbs begin to predominate
  • Understands most simple questions dealing with his environment and activities
  • Relates his experiences so that they can be followed with reason
  • Able to reason out such questions as “what must you do when you are sleepy, hungry, cool, or thirsty?”
  • Should be able to give his sex, name, age
  • Should not be expected to answer all questions even though he understands what is expected
4 Years
  • Knows names of familiar animals
  • Can use at least four prepositions or can demonstrate his understanding of their meaning when given commands
  • Names common objects in picture books or magazines
  • Knows one or more colors
  • Can usually repeat words of four syllables
  • Demonstrates understanding of over and under
  • Often indulges in make-believe
  • Extensive verbalization as he carries out activities
  • Understands such concepts as longer, larger, when a contrast is presented
  • Readily follows simple commands even thought the stimulus objects are not in sight
  • Much repetition of words, phrases, syllables, and even sounds
5 Years
  • Can use many descriptive words spontaneously-both adjectives and adverbs
  • Knows common opposites: big-little, hard-soft, heave-light, etc
  • Has number concepts of 4 or more
  • Can count to ten
  • Should be able to repeat sentences as long as nine words
  • Should be able to define common objects in terms of use (hat, shoe, chair)
  • Should be able to follow three commands given without interruptions
  • Should be using fairly long sentences and should use some compound and some complex sentences
  • Speech on the whole should be grammatically correct
6 Years
  • Speech should be completely intelligible and socially useful
  • Should be able to tell one a rather connected story about a picture, seeing relationships
  • Between objects and happenings
7 Years
  • Should handle opposite analogies easily: girl-boy, man-woman, flies-swims, blunt-sharp short-long, sweet-sour, etc
  • Understands such terms as: alike, different, beginning, end, etc
  • Should be able to do simple reading and to write or print many words
8 Years
  • Can relate rather involved accounts of events, many of which occurred at some time in the past
  • Complex and compound sentences should be used easily
  • Should be few lapses in grammatical constrictions-tense, pronouns, plurals
  • Should be reading with considerable ease and now writing simple compositions
  • Social amenities should be present in his speech in appropriate situations
  • Control of rate, pitch, and volume are generally well and appropriately established
  • Can carry on conversation at rather adult level
  • Follows fairly complex directions with little repetition
  • Has well developed time and number concepts


You have questions or want to schedule a consultation?
Give us a call, fill out our form online, drop by our offices and keep in touch with us on social media.

Pediatric Speech, Language
& Learning Center
230 Sherman Avenue
Berkeley Heights | NJ | 07722

Site created by Shadrach Stephens Communications LLC