Now your child’s a preschooler, you can expect longer, more complex conversations about all sorts of things. His vocabulary will continue to grow, and he might well show that he understands the basic rules of grammar. And you can look forward to some entertaining stories too.
Here are some of the things your preschooler might do from 4-5 years.
At four, she’ll use around 1500 different words but understand even
more. By five, she’ll have an even wider range of words that she can
understand and use.
Your child will begin to learn and use more:
- connecting words
- words that explain complicated emotions (‘confused’,
- words that explain things going on in his brain (‘don’t know’,
He’s also learning more and more adjectives that let him explain things better.
Sentences and grammar
Your child will speak in increasingly complex sentences by joining small
sentences together, and will use sentences in different ways. For
example, she’ll be able to say both ‘The dog was chasing the cat’ and
‘The cat was chased by the dog’ to mean the same thing. By five, your
child will be able to use long sentences of up to nine words.
Your child will develop the ability to talk about things that have happened
in the past, rather than just things that are currently happening.
He’ll also get better at using past tense and plurals.
By five, your child will understand and use words that explain
when things occur, such as ‘before’, ‘after’ and ‘next week’. She might
still have trouble understanding complicated ideas, such as ‘at the same
He’ll begin to understand figures of speech, such as ‘You’re pulling my leg’ and ‘He’s a couch potato’.
Your child will follow directions with more than two steps, even
if the situation is a new one. For example, ‘Give your ticket to the
man over there, and he’ll tear it, and then we can go to the movie’. But your child might do what she hears first and ignore words that tell her the order she should do things in. For example, she might ignore the word ‘before’ in the sentence ‘Before
we go into the movies, give your ticket to the man’.
By the age of 4½-5 years, almost every word your child says can
be understood by strangers. He might still have difficulty using some
speech sounds – for example, saying ‘fing’ for ‘thing’ or ‘den’ for
‘then’ – and might mispronounce some complex words, such as ‘ambulance’
Conversation and storytelling
Your child will continue to improve her storytelling, although she might
still give too much or not enough information. She might also have
trouble telling things in order and making it clear who’s being spoken
But he’ll have greater appreciation of others’ perspectives, so he
might add more useful background information in conversation. For
example, ‘I went to Mark’s and we had cake and Mark is from my
Your child will be getting better at taking turns in conversations with a group of people. And she’ll start talking at the right volume for the situation. She might make requests more politely, using words such as ‘can’, ‘would’ and ‘could’.
He’ll begin to use language to tease and tell jokes.
Children grow and develop at different rates, and the information in this article is offered as a guide only. If you’re at all concerned about your child’s language development, speak with your doctor or child health nurse.