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Normal Developmental Sequence of Expressive Language

in progressGoal Plan for Language Development, Phases I - VIII (Lahey, 1988, modified)
Printable copyPrintable version, full version (DPF) (coming)

Additional charts:

Chart key
( ) = optional goal; can be postponed
sw - single word
R = relational word
S = substantive word
C = content word
N = noun
V = verb
P = pronoun
VP = verb phrase
NP = noun phrase
Prep = preposition
Dem = demonstrative
Neg = negative word
c = connective
Rel Cl = relative clause
Vol = volition
Int = intention
Inflect = inflection
Dur = durative
irreg. pst. = irregular past
Habit = habitual
PLACE = (???)
ASPECT= (???)
Coord. = coordination
Constit. = major grammatical constituents (e.g. subject -verb -complement)
+ = plus
* = first productions may be with 2 rather than 3 constituents
Adapted from: Lahey, M. (1988)  Language Disorders and Language Development. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co, pp. 186-7.
The chart below identifies the normal developmental sequence of utterances that a child learning English expresses, i.e. says, signs, or cues.

In most children, comprehension develops before expression, meaning that most children are likely to comprehend utterances much more complex than the utterances they are able to spontaneously express at the same time.

Input by a person fluent in English should be abundant throughout the language acquisition process and is absolutely necessary for both comprehension and expression to develop.
 

** This utterance is from the first edition of the book (Bloom & Lahey, 1978).
# This specific utterance is not in the book, but it is the type of utterance specified in the book.
 

may leave ages out 1 - 2 years 3 - 4 years 4 - 5 years
Phase-I Phase-II Phase-III Phase-IV Phase-V Phase-VI Phase-VII Phase-VIII
Existence
/EXIST
sw
·ball
·man
·there
 
R+S
·this necklace
·a rabbit
 
(+ATTRIB)
·that a funny man
·that's red one
+RECUR
·thisanother clown
 

+ POSS
·this is my bike

"a"
·thatís a Patsyís pen

What?
·whatís this?

+copula
·thatís a book
 

Who?
·Who that?
 

     
Non-Existence
/NONEXIST
sw
·all gone 
·no
·no more
 
Neg+C ·
·no pocket
·no dirty
·no more soap

C+Neg
(example?)

  + ACTION
·Can't do it.
can't, didn't, not
(+LOC. ACT.)
·I didn't get it.#
·I can't reach.
·it's not in the bag.
     
Recurrence
/RECUR
sw
·more
 
R+S
·more coke
·more light
 

S+R
(example?)
·

  +EXIST
·thisanother clown
 

+ACTION
·man read another book

(+STATE)
·I want some more egg.
·I want some more pretzels, mommy.
(+LOC. ACT.)    
Rejection
/REJECT
(sw)
·no
    (Neg+C)
·no want that
·no bear book
don't
ACTION
·Don't touch my blocks. 
     
Denial
/DEN
sw
·no
      Neg+C
not
·There's the bolt barrels/not bolts
·I not tired.
     
Attribution
/ATTRIB
(sw)
·dirty
·hot
 
(Adj+N)
·hot stove
·dirty pants
 
(+EXIST)
·that a funny man
·that's red one
+ACTION
·make a big tree.
(+STATE)
·I got new pail
·Tim want red one.
 
 
+LOC. ACT.
(see LOC. ACT. below)
   
Possession
/POSS
(sw)
·da mommy
·mine
 
(N or P+N)
·dolly hat
·mommy sock
 
  +EXIST
·this is my bike
N+s
·that's daddy's birthday.
·that's my's

+ACTION
·Mommy hangs my socks up.

+LOC. ACT.
·I put on a Sue pin.

(+STATE)    
Action
/ACTION
sw
·wash
·open
·turn
·help
 
2 Constit.
·a eat juice 
·read a book
·ride this
 
3 Constit.
·Mommy open that.
·I do it.
·Kathryn read this.
 
+ATTRIB*
·I draw red man.
·make a big tree.

+PLACE
·I write my pan.
·There's a tape go round right there.

+NONEXIST*
·Can't do it.

+RECUR*
·Man read another book.
·write it nother book

+VOL/INT
·Want eat my snack.
·I wanna go outside.
·I'm open door. 

·Gonna make it man/house.


-ing
·
(examples

irreg. pst.
·
(examples

Mult.-Coord.
+POSS*
·Mommy hangs my socks up.

+REJECT*
·Don't touch my blocks. 

Irreg. pst.

·I broke a bridge.
·I fed a ducky.
·I found choo choo train there.

INT/PLACE
·I going wash my hands.
·I wanna write the choo choo train
·I want touch here.

 
  What? How?
·Who broke it?
·What you doing?
·Now what should we do  with em?
·What's the boy 
feeding?
 
Locative Action
/LOC. ACT.
sw
·up
·sit
·out
 
2 Constit.
Prep.+N
·up Pat
·sweater chair (?)
·away picture

V+Prep.
·
(examples

3 Constit.
·main sit train
·lamb a go car 
·lamb go in there
VOL/INT
V+s
·
(examples)
V + Prep.*
V = in, on
·put her down in the cradle.
·put this on my lap.

+POSS*
·put in my hair my barette.
·I put on a Patsy barette.
·I put on a Sue pin.
·you putting your sweater on

Irreg. pst.
·It fell down

Mama went bye-bye.


-ing
·I going
·I going out to playground.

(+NONEXIST*)
·not going away
·and a no sit down

+ATTRIB*
(+RECUR*)
·Here goes a green wheel.
·There goes a green wheel.
·I put a little thing in it.
·I get more lamb in the train.
 
   
Locative State
/LOC. ST.
    2-3 Constit.
·a dolly up here 
·baby basket 
·baby in
 
+Prep
inon
·baby in bed#
·boy in house
·tape on truck

Where?
·Where is it?
·Where man go?

       
State
/STATE
    2-3 Constit.
V = want
·I want book.
·Baby sleep.
·Gia want daddy.
 
VOL/INT
V-c+VP
V = want, go
·Want eat my snack.
·I wanna go outside.
·I'm open door. 
Gonna make it man/house.
·Gonna take wheel out.
VOL/INT
V+ to +VP
V = wantlike, have
·I have to get your hat. 
·I want to look
·Hafta play ball. 
·Want to see that noise.

(+ATTRIB)
·I got new pail
·Tim want red one.

(+RECUR)
·I want some more egg.
·I want some more pretzels, mommy.

(+POSS.)
·I want my table and chair.
·I want my supper.
·She has a band-aid on her toe.
 
VOL/INT
V+NP- to +VP
V = want
·I want mommy get it.
·Want the man stand up.

POSSIBILITY
can

·I can do it.

 
 

 

VOL/INT
V+NP+ to +VP
V = want
·I want this doll to stay here.
·I want Pat's doll to stay.
·I better get a pot 
holder because I might burn my hands.


OBLIGATION
should
·They should sit down in a chair. 

Quantity
/QTY
    (-s)
·library books

(numbers)
·two cow

 

+s
(numbers)
I want two cookies.
·two cows
some, many, all
(indefinite amounts)
·many clay
·I have some orange juice.
·all these in there
     
Notice Perception
/NOTICE
      2-3 Constit.
RECEPTION
·I hear Kevin.
·Oooh, look at the rabbit.
·look at that.
    V - c+NP+VP
V = see, look
·I gon see there's more tape.
·Look, I found.
V-c+NP+VP
(V-c = watch)
(show)
·You go in there and watch me 
eat, Lois.


·Would you help me show you how to do a somersault?

V+c+NP+VP
V+c= see what, 
see if, look what
·Watch what

I'm doing.
·See how fast I can run.
·Look what my mommy got me.
·Now let me try to see if I could hit.
Temporal
/TEMP
      ASPECT
V inflect.
+Dur -ing
·I writing circles.
·man making muffins.
- Dur. irreg. pst.
3rd person
·Gia did book.
 
+Habit.-s
·this one goes in there.
·that goes here.
  now
·Now your turn/now my turn.

SEQUENCE
VP+/-c+VP
c = and
·Let's go get a cup for them ok/and they gonna have some cereal.
·Ed's going home and take his coat off.

VP+c=VP
SEQUENCE
c = then
·Let the mommy into the frigerator and get some pineapple 
yogart and then she come out. 
SIMULTANEOUS
c = when
·I can only have the bear when I go to sleep.
(When?)

+ TENSE - Aux = 
is, was, (will)
·You try to put the boy on there because he keeps falling off/ok 

she sweeps.


·Because is all covered up.
·I dumped all these blocks out and made a big big mess.
·The bunny rabbits are sleeping & every body's sleeping.
·I was scratching my head. 
·He isn't having any food.
·Maybe the mommy will wash the boy and the girl when will you go home.

Additive
/ADD
        VP+/-c+VP
NP+/-c+NP
c = and
(succesive phrases with and without and)
·that be the stove/want cook it.
·I dump out this way/stir it.
·going to see Nana and Bill and Jack.

(succesive phrases with same and different verbs)
·Look there's a bear having a b'day party and there's a buzz and the little girl goes out the bathtub and eats.

     
Causal
/CAUSAL
        VP-c+VP
·dirty hands/hafta wash 'em
·choo-choo train can't go anyplace/fix dat.
·I want a handkerchief/
unbutton it.
OBJECTIVE
VP+c+VP
c = so, and, because
·I want spoon and I going take it.**
·I dirty so I take a bath.+
·You can't see it cause it's way inside.
·I gonna step in puddle with sandals on and get it all wet.
 
SUBJECTIVE
VP+c+VP
c = so, and, because
·You bend her over
ok/so I can put her on this rocking chair so she can rock.
·You stay away cause I hafta go in there.
·Let's all take all the books out so we can read them.
Why?
·Why?
·Why'd you bring these shoes?
·Why are you putting it right there?
Specification
/SPEC
        Dem+N
Dem = this vs. that
·I want that brush.
·I need this blue.#
the
·Let's put these in the box.
(Dem+(is)+c+VP)
c = what, where
·This what I got in New York.
·And that's where the cake goes.

(VP+c+VP)
c = and
·Looks like a fishing thing and you fish with it.

(VP+c+Rel CI)
c = that
·The man who
fixes the door.
·It's just a thing that I hold.
·This is the big one that goes over there.
Dative
/DAT
        N+N 
(usually without prep.)
·open door Mrs. Bloom.
·you get some Kathryn.
+Prep
to, for
·This is a stool for you.
·Will you open these for me.
·Give the ball to John.
 
   
Epistemic
/EPIS
            V+c+NP+VP
V+c = know what, know where
·I know where he put it.#
·I don't know what color.

V-c+NP+VP
V-c = think
·I think I put some lot of sugar in there.
·I think draw pink first.
 

 
Adversative
/ADVERS
            VP+c+NP+VP
c = and, but
·The butterflies saw the bumble bees here, but they a not coming out.
 
Communication
/COMM
              (V+c+NP+VP)
V = tell, say, 
ask
·I asked you to buy more cereal.
·Mommy said I can
References:
  • Bloom, L.,& Lahey, M. (1978). Language development and language disorders. New York: Wiley.
  • Lahey, M. (1988)  Language Disorders and Language Development. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. 
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