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Speech & Language Milestones

 Click on a child below for age-appropriate speech and language development milestones

0      1      2      3


3-4 years

4-5 years

5-6 years

6-7 years

Receptive Language

has 1,200-2,000+ words in receptive vocabulary

*follows 2-3 part directions

*understands language function

*understands differences in meaning (stop-go, in-out, big-little)


*has 2,800+ words in receptive vocabulary

*listens to simple stories

*understands number concepts up to 3

*spatial concept knowledge ongoing


*has 13,000+ words in receptive vocabulary

*follows instructions given in a group

*follows 3-part commands


*has 20,000+ words in receptive


*understands left and right

*understands most temporal concepts

*sequences numbers


Expressive Language

*has 800-1,500+ words in expressive vocabulary

*uses 4-5 words in sentences

*asks and answers simple questions (who, what where, why)

*produces simple verbal analogies

*uses language to express emotion

*uses nouns and verbs most frequently

*labels objects by name


*has 900-2,000+ words in expressive vocabulary

*uses 4-8 words in sentences

*asks for word definitions

*answers questions about function, simple stories and complex 2-part questions

*uses grammatically correct sentences

*accurately relays a long story


*continues to dramatically increase expressive vocabulary

*reduces sentence length to 4-6 words

*asks how questions

*answers verbally to hi and how are you?

*names opposites

*uses grammatically correct sentences

*accurately relays a story

*sings entire songs and recites nursery rhymes

*uses sentences with detail

*exchanges information and asks question


*uses sentence length of approximately 6 words

*names some letters, numbers, and


*uses increasingly more complex


*recites the alphabet

*counts to 100 by rote



*master 50% of consonants and blends

*speech is 80% intelligible


*produces consonants with 90% accuracy

*frequently omits medial consonants

*speech is usually intelligible to strangers


*reverses sounds occasionally



Social/Pragmatic Skills

*engages in long conversations

*may continue to use echolalia

*may repeat self often, exhibiting blocks, disturbed breathing, and facial grimaces during speech

*manipulates adults and peers


*enjoys rhythms & rhymes

*talks about experiences at school, at friendsí home, etc.


*communicates easily with adults and other children


*engages in conversation


Grammar Skills

*appropriately uses is, are, and am in sentences

*uses some contractions, irregular plurals, future tense verbs, and conjunctions

*consistently uses regular plurals, possessives, and simple past tense verbs


*uses some irregular plurals, possessive pronouns, future tense, reflexive pronouns, and comparative morphemes in sentences


*uses past and future tenses appropriately

*uses conjunctions

*uses appropriate grammar in most cases


*uses most morphological markers appropriately


Source: Shipley, K. Assessment in Speech Language Pathology. Second Edition. Singular Publishing Group. (1998).

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