Speaking in Sentences

Toddlers vary as to how soon they begin to combine words into sentences and on the complexity and completeness of their sentences. Their understanding of the importance of word order, however, begins soon after they begin using individual words.

Even 18-month-olds may use word order to express different meanings: “Kiss Teddy” means kiss the teddy bear; “Teddy kiss” means the bear will kiss you.

Talking in Families

Younger siblings sometimes follow a reverse pattern of language development. Rather than gradually combining individual words into more complex sentences, they begin by babbling in the intonation patterns of whole adult sentences.

They may sound like fluent speakers but of a language no one knows. Eventually, more and more real words sprinkle their babbled sentences, until they are speaking the same language as everyone else.

While most babies arrive in the world ready to learn language, many studies have shown that their environment fuels that development.

Children who live in language-intensive homes—where word play (including nursery rhymes and songs), reading and family dinner table conversations are everyday activities—acquire more language earlier and use it with more ease and effectiveness as they grow.

See also ...

•  Learning to talk

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

Powered by UbiCare