Grammar Development Stages for a Child

Language development occurs in consistent stages.

Children do not learn how to speak properly overnight. Instead, the process of grammar development is slow and continuous. While no two children are the same, there is a general grammar progression that parents can expect their children to follow. As children move through the stages of grammar development, they become more and more adept at speaking in proper English.

1 Stage 1

Children generally begin speaking in recognizable words between 9 months and 1 year old. At this stage, children speak in single words. The words that children learn within this age span are predominantly nouns.

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2 Stage 2

Between 1 and 2 years of age, children develop the ability to speak in two-word sentences. These sentences are often not grammatically correct, sometimes consisting of two nouns, and other times a noun and a verb. Most commonly, the sentences begin with a verb and end with a noun. “Want milk,” for example, is a common stage 2 sentence.

3 Stage 3

Stage 3 spans from 2 years to 2 1/2 years. During this time, children develop the ability to speak in three-word sentences. These sentences are often formed in a grammatically correct order. Children also begin to engage in basic pronoun usage during this stage, using the pronoun “I” as a self-referent quite frequently.

4 Stage 4

Children develop the ability to speak in simple sentences between the ages of 2 1/2 and 3 years old. These simple sentences include proper syntax, and usually consist of three to four words.

5 Stage 5

Between the ages of 3 years and 3 1/2 years, children begin to integrate compound and complex sentences into their vocal line-up. At this stage in grammar development, 90 percent of what a child says is clearly intelligible, reports the Children's Development Institute.

6 Stage 6

Children engage in stage 6 of grammar development between the ages of 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 years. During this stage, children improve their ability to navigate irregular verbs and properly use plural noun formations.

7 Stage 7

Beyond the age of 4 1/2 years, children continue to increase the complexity of their sentence formations. Modifiers, including adjectives and adverbs, become increasingly prevalent during this development stage. As children progress to school age, they learn the structures of formal grammar and modify their grammar as necessary to make up for any grammatical deficiencies.

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.