What Is Receptive Language?

Receptive language includes a child’s ability to listen to, interpret, and understand symbolic communication. This includes comprehension of spoken language, interpretation of gestures and nonverbal communication, identification of objects/pictures, and the ability to answer questions.

Concepts and Directions

Following directions is a basic component of receptive language that involves completing routine or simple tasks, as well as understanding more comple [...]

Understanding Questions

Understanding questions refers to the ability to process information asked by a speaker. A child 1-2 years old is expected to answer simple yes and no [...]


Children begin learning vocabulary at an early age. Beginning in the first few years, children are learning how to point to body parts, clothing items [...]



Birth - 3 Months

Startles in response to loud noises; responds to caregiver’s voice; smiles/quiets when spoken to; discriminates between speech and non-speech sounds

3 - 6 Months

Looks toward sounds; responds differently to voice tone (e.g. angry, sad, happy); attends to music and noisy toys; watches a speaker when spoken to

6 - 12 Months

Looks for source of noises; stops when name is called; recognizes words for common objects; listens to new words; begins responding to simple requests (e.g. come here)

1 - 2 Years

Follows 1-step directions; understands simple questions (e.g. Where is…?); points to pictures in books when named; follows directions to find familiar objects; listens to simple stories; answers “yes/no” questions; understands spatial concepts “in” and “on”

2 - 3 Years

Identifies body parts; follows 2-step directions (e.g. “get your shoes and bring them to me”); follows directions with actions and adjectives; identifies actions in pictures (e.g. sleep, eat); identifies objects by function; understands simple quantity concepts; understands size concepts; identifies same vs. different

3 - 4 Years

Hears you when called from another room; understands simple “WH” questions (e.g. “What, Who, Where, Why”); understands questions about activities and the environment; learns from listening; answers questions about object function; identifies some colors and shapes; matches objects; understands words for family (e.g. “baby, granddad”)

4 - 5 Years

Attends to and answers questions about a short story; hears and understands most of what is said at home and at school; repeats 4 numbers by memory; follows commands with objects that aren’t immediately available; answers “When” and “How many” questions; understands superlatives; understands simple time concepts; understands positional terms “first, middle, last”

5 - 6 Years

Repeats sentences up to 9 words long; follows 3-step directions; responds correctly to a variety of sentence types; understands opposites; understands “left/right”

If you have concerns about your child’s Receptive Language Skills, contact us for a FREE screening today!


Tri-County Therapy contact information for children with speech delays in Anderson and Charleston, SC.