Which comes first -- recognizing letters or naming letters? At 19 mos. old, Timmy recognizes the letters, but is not yet able to name them. Recognizing letters is a vision-to-brain skill which does not require the ability to talk. Reading silently is similar in that way. The answer to the question -- recognizing letters comes first. As with any object, if you can't recognize it first, you will not be able to name what it is.