Typical Ages / Stages of Pragmatic Language Development

The approximate ages that Pragmatic Skills (Social Communication) develop:


0-18 months:

  • Will bring objects to adult to show them.

  • Will try to gain attention by using sounds, gestures, grabbing them by the hand.

  • Will wave to say hello or goodbye or say the word “bye”.

  • Will request things using gestures, sounds or words (e.g. reach for the biscuits in the cupboard, etc.).

  • Will protest by shaking head, vocalising, pushing an object away.

  • Will comment on an object or action by getting the adults attention, pointing, vocalising or saying a word (e.g. pointing to the dog and saying “woof woof” with intention of showing the dog to the adult).

  • Will look at the speaker or respond with facial expression, vocalisation or word when someone speaks.


18 months – 2 years:

  • Use words or short phrases for various language functions (e.g. greeting:”hello”, “bye bye”, protesting:”no”, “mine”, making a statement “Ball blue”, etc, giving a direction – saying” ball” while pointing for you to get the ball, etc.).

  • Uses phrases like “what’s that?” to get attention.

  • Will name things in front of other people.

  • Engages in verbal turn-taking.


2 to 3.5 years:

  • Can take on the role of another person within play.

  • Engages in greater number of turns within interactions with others.

  • Begins to recognise the needs of other people and will speak differently to a baby than to an adult.

  • Acknowledges partner’s messages by saying things like “yeah”, “ok”, “mm”, etc.

  • Begins using language for fantasies and make believe.

  • Requests permission to do things (“Mummy, can I go outside?”).

  • Begins to correct others.

  • Is able to engage in simple story telling and is beginning to make guesses at what might happen in a story (inferencing).


4-5 years:

  • Can use correctly terms such as ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘here’ and ‘there’.

  • Uses language to discuss emotions and feelings more regularly.

  • Uses in direct requests (e.g. “I’m hungry” to request food, etc.).

  • Ability to tell stories is developing and can describe a sequence of events (e.g. “The man is on the horse and he is going to jump over the fence and then he is going to go home”, etc.).


5-6 years:

  • Ability to tell stories develops and now able to tell a story with a central character with a logical sequence of events but still may have difficulties with ending (e.g.” Once upon a time there was a little boy called Joe who has a sister and a brother and likes to go fishing, one day ……. etc., etc.).

  • May praise others (“Well done, you did it”).

  • Beginning to be able to make promises (e.g. ” I promise I will do it tomorrow”).