How Language Develops

How Language Develops

One-Year Olds

  • Understand and participate in routines such as pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo
  • Make a variety of sounds
  • Say “mama,” “dada” and several other words

Two-Year Olds

  • Can say at least 50 words
  • Put two words together
  • Use words to communicate their needs
  • Understand names of familiar people and objects, simple verbs and adjectives

Three-Year Olds

  • Can relate a simple story or event
  • Use three to four word sentences with simple grammar
  • Can be understood by most adults


  • Usually produce grammatically correct sentences
  • Begin to use complex sentences
  • Start to talk about past and future events
  • Are able to follow classroom instructions

School-Age Children

  • Begin to use humor and non-literal language
  • Tell stories that contain a logical sequence of events
  • Play with/reflect on language (for example: rhyming, antonyms, synonyms, multiple meanings)