Two-word Phrases: How and When?


Wondering when your child should start combining words and using two-word phrases to communicate wants and needs? You’ve stopped at the right blog entry!  Research shows that children typically begin combining words when they have acquired a spontaneous vocabulary of 50 words(words used independently without imitating you)  If your child doesn’t have around 50 words, keep working on their single word vocabulary.  If they do, you’re ready to start focusing on expanding their phrases!  There are various ways you can encourage your child to put words together, those include:

  • Pronoun + Noun – “my ball” or “your shoe”
  • Noun + Preposition- “block in” or “sock on”
  • Adjective + Noun- “dirty ball” or “icky mud”
  • Verb + Noun- “Eat banana” or “kick ball”
  • Pronoun + Verb- “I jump” or “me go”

Remember this is a new concept for your child, so keep it simple and do LOTS of repetition.  If you feel like your child is having trouble with this, another idea is to work on imitating the same word, repetitively.  For example, while playing with your toy barn and farm animal you can use “eat, eat, eat” while gesturing an animal to eat from the feeder. You can also create activities for this using just your child. For example, while going up the stairs use, “up, up, up.”  Action words (verbs) and location words (prepositions) work best in this kind of activity. Most importantly, keep in mind that all of these efforts should be done in a natural play based setting – not as “drills” or “practice”. Kids learn best when the language activities are presented in the context of meaningful play or routines.

By Suri Jata, M.S., CCC-SLP

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