Language and MS

Language and MS

At times you might notice some changes in your language ability which can be quite frustrating.

You may have difficulty finding the word you are looking for, an ‘on the tip of the tongue’ experience. You might know the word you want to use but just can’t seem to get it out. You may notice you misname words, or you may be able to describe the function of an item but not its actual name.

Some people with MS find difficulty with verbal fluency, that is being able to choose the best words to express themselves quickly.

Sometimes you may start to answer a question and then get sidetracked.

Strategies to help

Talk around the subject

"Hang on, the word is there, on the tip of my tongue..."

If you lose your train of thought

Try to get a picture in your mind

...of the object, person or idea you want to retrieve


Try thinking of the first letter of the word you are trying to remember

Working through categories and sub-categories which describe the word or object may lead you to it

Finishing Sentences

Encourage people you know not to tell you the word you are finding it hard to say. This can be very frustrating and cause arguments because people all too often give the wrong word. It may also encourage you to stop trying to find words and allow others to speak for you.

Try 'chunking' information

Grouping different pieces of information into manageable blocks can make it easier to retain and recall.

For example:

A phone number – many phone numbers are 10+ digits so chunking can help. An example the number for your GP is 01513389548 by breaking it down (chunking) 0151 – 338 – 9548 you are more likely to remember it.

A shopping list - how many items can you remember from the list below?

Try chunking the information into groups:

Chunking the information together into groups makes it easier to remember – most people can remember up to 5-7 “bits” of information when “chunked” together

Before sitting down to write

Using key thoughts or words like ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ can help you structure your thoughts

Key words

Sometimes it can be very hard to get information down on paper in a way that you and others can understand. Using key words can be helpful before you sit down to write a letter, essay etc. For example you want to write to complain about a faulty microwave. The key things you need to include are:

Practical example

Download a template to help structure your writing, and a practical example to put it to use