Expressive Language is what we do when we share our ideas through speaking. As we get older, we use more complex sentences and vocabulary especially when writing.

Children with good expressive language skills:

  • Use a variety of vocabulary
  • Use simple and complex sentences
  • Use age appropriate grammatical forms (e.g., past tense -ed)
  • Tell stories sequentially with detail and ease

Characteristics of an expressive language disorder may include grammatical errors, poor sentence structure, word-finding difficulties, limited vocabulary, overuse of filler words like “uh,” “thing” or “stuff,” overuse of gesturing, and difficulty “coming to the point."

Children with language disorders are frequently found to have word retrieval difficulties, which makes them slower to rapidly name objects and at risk for reading difficulties. When children are having difficulty retrieving a word, their expressive language is inhibited, and they often will have the sense that it is “on the tip of their tongue.” Further, they will use an indirect manner of speaking (circumlocution) to describe an object or event when the name cannot be recalled (e.g., saying “That thing you pound with” instead of “hammer”). For more information see:

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