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Language Development:
-3 Years Old

  • Children speak in sentences of 3-4 words

  • Pronunciation is getting better and more accurate

  • Children often play and talk at the same time

  • Strangers can understand about 3/4 of what the child says

  • Children's vocabulary grows very quickly

  • Children understand more words than they can use

  • Children use a lot of nouns, with some verbs, adjectives, pronouns and location words (in, here, etc.)

  • Start using words like; 'more', 'most', 'who', 'what' and 'where'

  • Start using 'me', 'mine' and 'you' 

  • By 3 years old, they understand the difference between 'mine' and 'yours'

  • They start using plural; 'balls' or 'trains'

  • Grammar structure starts to be more correct; instead of 'I go' will use 'I'm going'

  • Will start using past tense verbs; 'walked' or 'jumped' 

  • Grammatical errors are still very common; "I goed" instead of "I went"

  • The child still understands a lot more than they can say

  • Starts to understand simple 2 step instructions that are familiar; 'come here and sit down'

  • New or unfamiliar instructions might still be difficult to understand

  • Has a fundamental understanding of 'who, what, when, where' but may not be able to answer 'why or how' questions

  • Can tell by the tone of the voice if someone is happy or mad

  • By 3 years, the child will use most speech sounds in their words

  • May still have difficulties with certain sounds; blending sounds like 'cl' in clap might be hard, more difficut sounds like  ‘z’, ‘sh’, ‘f’, ‘v’, ‘r’, and ‘th’, might still be hard for the child to say

  • Develop conversation skills; talking one at a time, waiting their turn

  • May tell simple short stories; recalling a trip to the park

  • The child may need an adults' assistance to tell a story in order and to add details

  • By 3 years, they may be able to make up a story, but without much details

  • The child can talk about people and objects that are not present (recalling a visit to grandma's or about climbing a tree)

  • By 3 years, children now cry less and can use their words more often to explain their frustration or a problem and can ask for help

  • It is a time where a child can start using speech while playing, making their toys 'talk' and adding dialogue in their play

  • They start playing with other children and can take turns and add dialogue or stories to their play, they may even use different voices to represent different characters

  • Children start using rhymes, songs or story

  • They will talk to themselves, using various tones or loudness

When to Seek Assistance: 

  • The child is not using any words to communicate

  • It is hard for others to understand them (other than a parent)

  • Has stopped using a language skill they once had

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