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Receptive Vs. Expressive Language

What is Receptive Language?

Receptive language is language that is received, comprehended, or understood. This includes interpreting and understanding what is heard, signed, gestured, or read.

For your child, this looks like understanding directions and questions, identifying objects and colors, and following the understood rules of conversation (turn-taking, question and answer, etc.)

What is Expressive Language?

Expressive language is language that is expressed. This includes speaking, writing, signing, gesturing, and using augmented alternative communication (AAC).

This is easier to observe than receptive language, since we can see, hear, or read language that is expressed.

Why do we distinguish between the two?