Asking and Answering Questions

Children with speech and language delays often have difficulty asking and answering questions appropriately. This is a difficult skill as it requires the child to understand what is being asked, process the question, form an answer, and speak that answer. Or, if the child is asking a question, it requires formulation of the question with all of the words in the correct order (which is often backwards from the word order for statements).

When Should Children be Asking and Answering Questions?

SNot all questions are created equal. Some questions are easier for children to learn and others require more complex thinking and verbal skills. If you are wondering what type of questions to begin using with a child, take a look at the ages that typically-developing children master them. Start with the easier ones and work your way toward the harder ones.

Age Question Skills Mastered
1 – 2 yrs
  • Chooses from two objects (by pointing or speaking) when asked what she wants
  • Answers simple “where” questions by pointing, such as “where’s the ball”
  • Answers “what’s this” questions about familiar objects or pictures
  • Answers yes/no questions, possibly with a head nod or shake
  • Starts to use question words, beginning with “what’s that?”
  • Uses a rising intonation (pitch goes up at the end) to indicate that she’s asking something, like saying “Daddy?”
2 – 3 yrs
  • Points to objects when described, such as “What do you wear on your head?”
  • Answers longer questions, such as “where…?”, “what….doing?”, and “who is…..?”
  • Answers or understands “Can you…” questions
  • Asks basic questions about her own wants and needs, such as “where cookie?”
  • Asks “Where…?”, “What…?”, “What….doing?” questions
3 – 4 yrs
  • Answers more complex questions, such as “who”, “why”, “where”, and “how”
  • Answers “If…what…?” questions, such as “if it starts raining, what do you do?”
  • Answers questions about the function of objects “what do you do with a fork?”
  • Asks “Why?”…constantly….
  • Uses “what, where, when, how, and whose” when asking questions
  • Asks “Is…” Questions
  • Inverts word order to ask, such as “Is daddy going?” instead of “Daddy is going?”
4 yrs
  • Answers “when” questions
  • Answers “how many” questions (as long as the answer doesn’t exceed 4)
  • Asks the following types of questions using correct grammatical structure: “Do you want to…”, “Are we going to…”, “can you…”