What are the different types of aphasia?

Aphasia is a language impairment typically caused by a stroke or other brain injury. It can affect both the understanding and production of speech and language, and cases can be severe or mild. Patients may recover their speech and language abilities, but aphasia can also be lifelong. According to the National Aphasia Association, 2 million people in the United States live with aphasia. However, there are several types of aphasia and they affect speech and language in different ways. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of aphasia.

Broca’s Aphasia

Broca’s aphasia refers to instances of aphasia where the patient can understand others but has trouble with their own use of speech and language. They may be unable to speak fluently and speak in a halting way instead. They may have trouble utilizing grammar rules when speaking. With Broca’s aphasia, speaking at all may take a lot of effort.

Wernicke’s Aphasia

Wernicke’s aphasia is also known as fluent aphasia. Individuals with Wernicke’s aphasia have less trouble with verbal expression and more difficulties with language comprehension. This may affect their speech as well. For example, they may use stray irrelevant words in their vocabulary. Additionally, they may have difficulty with reading and writing.

Global Aphasia

Global aphasia is the most severe form of aphasia. It is characterized by a loss of ability to speak and understand language. Patients with global aphasia may need help with speaking or understanding words. However, their cognitive skills not related to language are usually unaffected. Global aphasia is common after a stroke. Luckily the brain can often heal partially or completely, though there can be lasting damage from a stroke.

With global aphasia, Wernicke’s and Broca’s brain areas may be affected. Individuals with global aphasia will often rely on non-verbal forms of communication, such as gesturing and drawing.

Primary Progressive Aphasia

Individuals most commonly develop Aphasia after a brain injury. However, individuals may develop Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) because they also develop a degenerative cognitive condition such as dementia. With PPA, the language centers of the brain tissue slowly deteriorate over time, so individuals may gradually lose some or all of their language skills. This includes speech and comprehension, including reading and writing. Other forms of memory loss may follow suit. Initially, PPA usually begins with impairment in speech.

Mixed Non-Fluent Aphasia

Mixed non-fluent aphasia is similar to Broca’s aphasia. However, they may have more limited language understanding abilities in this case than in a typical Broca’s aphasia case. They may be able to read and write, but not at a typical adult level. 

Anomic Aphasia

Anomic aphasia is a milder form of aphasia. Individuals often struggle with word retrieval. With this condition, individuals can usually speak fluently and comprehend language but cannot develop the exact words they need to express their thoughts fully. They might speak in vague terms or paraphrase what they mean. They also may take many pauses while speaking to find the words they want to convey.


If your loved one has aphasia, it’s important to remember that they are still intelligent and probably have a rich inner world, but they may simply have trouble expressing or understanding language. Be patient when communicating with someone who has aphasia. It may improve with enough practice and interventions. 

We hope this article has helped you understand the following: 

  • Aphasia is a language disorder that affects speech and language comprehension
  • Aphasia is usually experienced after a brain injury 
  • If an individual has aphasia, they are not unintelligent. Their brain has experienced a physical trauma that has made them unable to access certain aspects of language.
  • Understanding that there are 6 different types of aphasia. When you can understand which type of aphasia an individual has, you can communicate more effectively with them.

If you are a clinician treating aphasia, we recommend these language exercises to stimulate the language areas of the brain and help in the treatment process.

Aly Castle

Aly is HappyNeuron Pro’s Content Specialist. She is passionate about mental health and well-being and loves utilizing her design background to share important cognitive information clearly and understandably.

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