Utterance is a term used in linguistics to refer to a complete unit of speech, which could be a single word, phrase, or sentence (Biber et al., 1999). In the field of speech and language pathology, utterances are used to measure language development in children, as well as to identify speech and language disorders in both children and adults (Tomblin, Records, & Zhang, 2002).

Utterances can be further broken down into two distinct categories: spoken and written. Spoken utterances are those spoken aloud, while written utterances are those written down in some form (e.g., in a book, on a computer, etc.). (Gutierrez-Clellen & Kreiter, 2006).

In linguistics, utterances are studied from both a syntactic and semantic perspective. Syntactic utterance analysis focuses on the structure of an utterance and how it is formed, while semantic utterance analysis looks at the meaning of the utterance and how it is interpreted (Erting, Johnson, & Beukelman, 1993).

Utterances can also be used to identify and measure certain language-related disorders, such as stuttering (Kamhi & Catts, 1989). For example, a speech and language therapist may analyze a person’s utterances to determine if they are exhibiting any disfluencies, such as a certain type of repetition or prolongation of sounds.

In conclusion, utterance is an important concept in linguistics and speech and language pathology, as it is used to measure language development and identify speech and language disorders. It is further studied from both syntactic and semantic perspectives, and can be used to identify and measure certain language-related disorders.


Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited.

Erting, C., Johnson, C., & Beukelman, D. (1993). Utterance analysis for clinical practice. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 2(2), 33-41.

Gutierrez-Clellen, V. F., & Kreiter, J. (2006). Spoken and written language: Development and disorders. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Kamhi, A. G., & Catts, H. W. (1989). The role of utterance structure in the development of language. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 20(3), 189-199.

Tomblin, J. B., Records, N. L., & Zhang, X. (2002). Language and literacy outcomes of children with specific language impairment. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 8(3), 206-214.

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