Purpose: Achieving behavioral independence is a key task of adolescent development. This 1 article of a companion set of 2 (the 2nd addressing the topic of parental perspectives) presents an investigation of the impact of language ability on independence. Method: Longitudinal and follow-up data from 120 adolescents with a history of specific language impairment (SLI), as well as concurrent data on a comparison group of 118 typically developing (TD) young people, are reported. Parental and self-report measures were used to examine independent functioning related to everyday living at the end of compulsory education (16 years of age). Results: Adolescents with SLI are less independent than their TD peers, and level of independence is associated with poor early language and poor later literacy skills. Conclusion: Language and literacy play a larger role in adolescent independent functioning than nonverbal abilities in both TD adolescents and adolescents with SLI. © American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.