What is Vocabulary?

Vocabulary refers to all of the words that we know. There are four different types of vocabulary :

  • 1. Listening Vocabulary : Words you understand if you hear someone else say them.
  • 2. Speaking Vocabulary : Words you are able to use during conversational speech. These are words you have easy access to.
  • 3. Reading Vocabulary : Words that you understand if you read them in a text.
  • 4. Writing Vocabulary : Words that you are able to use in writing to tell about something or elaborate on a point.

In speech pathology, we also often talk about receptive and expressive vocabularies.

Expressive vocabularies would be anything you can say/use. For example, if someone shows you the picture of something you can name it and if someone asks you what something is called you can come up with the word.

Receptive vocabulary would include any word that you understand. For example, if someone says “point to the picture of the baboon”, you could find that from some choices.

According to the Linguisystems Milestones Guide, children should have the following number of words in their expressive vocabularies. Keep in mind that these are estimates so if your child is close, don’t worry about it. It’s only when a child is far from knowing this many words that we should begin addressing the issue.

Age Approximate Words in Expressive Vocabulary
12 months 2 – 6 words
15 months 10
18 months 50
24 months 200 – 300
30 months 450
3 years 1,000
4 years 1,600
5 years 2,200 – 2,500
6 years 2,600 – 7,000
12 years 50,000 (Wow!)