By Raising Children Network
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Two toddlers together

Between the ages of two and three, your toddler’s vocabulary will probably double. She’ll speak in longer sentences, and she might play and talk at the same time. Strangers will probably be able to understand most of what she says by the time she’s three.

Here are some of the things your toddler might do from 2-3 years.


At 30 months, he’ll be able to say about 500 words, and understand hundreds more. By age three, he might use nearly 1000 words and will still be learning new words every day.

She’ll use lots of nouns (baby, friend, car, boat) and also more verbs (play, go, walk), adjectives (wet, sore, cloudy), pronouns (he, she, I, you) and location words (in, on). She’ll start using words such as ‘more’ and ‘most’, and words needed to make questions such as ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’.

He’ll begin to say ‘me’, ‘mine’ and ‘you’. By three, he’ll understand the difference between ‘mine’ and ‘yours’.

Sentences and grammar

Your child will use two-word sentences at around two years. By age three, she’ll be able to use sentences with three or more words (‘Mummy get in car’, ‘Me go too’, ‘Put sock on foot’).

He’ll begin to use sentence structure – for example, word endings (‘I go’ becomes ‘I’m going’), past tense (walked, fished) and plurals (cats, horses). He might not always get these right. For example, he might say ‘foots’ for ‘feet’, or ‘goed’ instead of ‘went’, because he’s still trying to work out how language works.


Your child will understand one-step and two-step instructions, as long as they’re about things she already knows – for example, ‘Pick up your toys and put them in the box’ or ‘Come over here and have some apple’.

He’ll begin to answer questions from adults about ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘where’, but might not yet understand how to answer ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.

She’ll know how to ask you for help if she can’t do something.

He’ll understand household routines and guess what’s going to happen next in a routine. For example, if you tell him to put his boots on, he knows he’ll be going to the park.


By three, your child will use most of the speech sounds in her words, but might still pronounce words differently from adults. For example, even though she can say the sounds ‘b’ and ‘l’, she might have trouble saying them together in ‘blue’. Her pronunciation will be understood by strangers 75% of the time by about three years of age.


Your child will start to get the hang of speaking in turn, and might be able to have a short conversation with you.

He’ll talk about things that have happened during the day. With some prompting, he might be able to sequence things into a simple story – for example, ‘I go shop.’  ‘And what did you do at the shop?’  ‘Buy lollies.’ By age three, he might be able to tell a simple ‘made-up’ story based on experiences he’s had, but will probably leave out lots of detail.

She’ll talk about people and objects not present – for example, ‘Grandma at the shops’, ‘My ball in tree’.

Your child will start talking the same way you or your partner talk, mimicking your pronunciation and emphasis. He might begin to ‘boss’ other people around, particularly younger children!   


Your child will be able to accompany play with talk by age three – for example, giving voices to the dolls she’s playing with. She’ll begin to play in groups with other children, sharing toys and taking turns.

He’ll enjoy playing with language through rhyming, singing and listening to stories. He might use an overly loud or soft voice when speaking.

Children grow and develop at different rates. The information in this article is offered as a guide only. You know your child better than anyone else – if you’re concerned about your child’s language development, talk to your GP or a health professional. If your health care provider doesn’t have concerns about your child, but you still do, get another opinion.
  • Last updated or reviewed 20-02-2012