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2-3 Years

This is a guide to how children develop speech and language between 2 and 3 years.


Children develop skills at different rates, but by 3 years usually children will:

  • Listen to and remember simple stories with pictures.
  • Understand longer instructions, such as 'make teddy jump' or 'where's mummy's coat?'
  • Understand simple 'who', 'what' and 'where' questions.
  • Use up to 300 words.
  • Put 4 or 5 words together to make short sentences, such as 'want more juice' or ‘he took my ball’.
  • Ask lots of questions. They will want to find out the name of things and learn new words. 
  • Use action words as well as nouns, such as ‘run’ and ‘fall’.
  • Start to use simple plurals by adding ‘s’, for example ‘shoes’ or ‘cars’.
  • Use a wider range of speech sounds. However, many children will shorten longer words, such as saying ‘nana’ instead of ‘banana’. They may also have difficulty where lots of sounds happen together in a word, e.g. they may say ‘pider’ instead of 'spider.'
  • Often have problems saying more difficult sounds like sh, ch, th and r. However, people that know them can mostly understand them.
  • Now play more with other children and share things.
  • Sometimes sound as if they are stammering or stuttering.  They are usually trying to share their ideas before their language skills are ready. This is perfectly normal, just show you are listening and give them plenty of time.

Progress Checker

Check the Progress of your child’s communication development using our Progress Checker for children at the following ages:

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