Semantic Feature Analysis for Aphasia

Semantic feature analysis is an evidence-based treatment for mild to moderate aphasia. In this post, you’ll find step-by-step instructions plus a printable chart!

Download the free Naming Photos & Visual Scenes PDF for full-color images to use during your aphasia treatment.

semantic feature analysis images

And for everything you need to assess, treat, and document, check out The Adult Speech Therapy Starter Pack!

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How Does Semantic Feature Analysis Work?

how does semantic feature analysis work?

Semantic feature analysis helps people with anomia improve word retrieval. Namely (pun intended!), it helps them to retrieve nouns.

It does this by teaching patients a word-retrieval process, aka semantic feature analysis.

The benefits of teaching a process is 2-prong. First of all, research shows that semantic feature analysis leads to significant improvement in word-retrieval for the nouns that were practiced.

Secondly, the research shows some improvement in generalization of naming ability. Yay!

So how do you actually do the treatment? Keep scrolling.

Who Is Semantic Feature Analysis For?

who is semantic feature analysis for?

Semantic feature analysis works best for patients who:

  • Have mild to moderate aphasia
  • Have normal (or corrected) vision and hearing
  • Don’t have moderate to severe motor disorders
  • Don’t have non-linguistic cognitive impairments (memory, executive functioning problems)

What Materials Do I Need?

How Do I Choose Which Nouns To Use?

semantic feature analysis word list

To keep your treatment patient-centered, work with the patient and/or their family and friends to choose a list of words that are hard for them to say and meaningful to them.

If that doesn’t elicit enough words, add words to the list that you think are meaningful to your patient. Think daily activities, interests, etc.

To activate more of the patient’s semantic network, gather nouns from a wide range of categories. For example, gather food, medical, gardening, and travel nouns.

To make the process of gathering images easier, download printable naming photos here!

Semantic Feature Analysis: Step-By-Step!

  1. Present the semantic feature analysis chart
  2. Present a picture of the target noun
  3. Ask the patient to name the picture
  4. Whether they name it correctly or not, keep going!
  5. One-by-one, prompt them to name the 6 semantic features on the chart. Cue as needed
  6. Write down the features as the patient names them
  7. After they’ve named all 6 features, ask them to name the picture again
    • Summarize the chart to prompt a correct answer: “It’s a big vehicle that floats on water, looks like a canoe, and is used for fishing”

To help your patient internalize this word-retrieval process, go through the semantic features in the same order, every time. This repetition takes advantage of their procedural memory.

Of course, be flexible and go with the patient’s flow! But then return to the same order to help cement the process in their minds.

The 6 Semantic Features

1) Association. What does it remind you of?
2) Group. What type of thing is it?
3) Action. What does it do?
4) Properties. What does it look/taste/sound/feel like? (color, shape, size, etc)
5) Location. Where do you find it?
6) Use. What is it used for?

Semantic Feature Analysis Example

semantic feature analysis example

Semantic Feature Analysis Chart

RecipeSLP offers free printable semantic feature analysis charts in English and in Spanish.

semantic feature analysis chart

Spanish Semantic Feature Analysis Chart

semantic feature analysis chart spanish

Adult Speech Therapy Materials

For more evidence-based speech therapy materials, visit our shop!


1. Boyle, M. (n.d.) Semantic feature analysis treatment for individuals with aphasia. Medbridge.

2. Efstratiadou EA, Papathanasiou I, Holland R, Archonti A, Hilari K. A Systematic Review of Semantic Feature Analysis Therapy Studies for Aphasia. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2018 May 17;61(5):1261-1278. doi: 10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-16-0330. PMID: 29710193.

3. Maddy, K., Capilouto, G., & McComas, K. (2014). The effectiveness of semantic feature analysis: An evidence-based systematic review. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 57(4), 254-267.

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