top of page

Typical Speech Development


What is "normal"?


By 24 months, your child should be understood by others 50-75% of the time. 


By 36 months, your child should be understood by others 75-100% of the time.

What should my child be able to understand?

1.5 Years

  • Identifies pictures of familiar objects

  • Understands inhibitory words (e.g., “no”, “don’t”)

  • Indicates body parts on self, caregiver, or doll

  • Understands verbs in context


2 Years

  • Identifies clothing items on self, caregiver, or doll

  • Understands spatial concepts (e.g., in, off, out)

  • Recognizes actions in pictures

  • Understands several pronouns (e.g., me, my, your)


2.5 Years

  • Understands use of objects

  • Understands part/whole relationships

  • Understands simple descriptive concepts (e.g., big, little, wet)

  • Follows 2-step, related directions without cues


3 Years

  • Understands quantity concepts (e.g., “one”, “some”, “rest”, “all)

  • Understands pronouns “his” and “her”Understands negatives in sentences

  • Understands negatives in sentences

3.5 Years

  • Identifies colors

  • Makes inferences

  • Identifies categories of objects in pictures

  • Understands picture analogies

  • Understands “more” and “most”


4 Years

  • Understands expanded sentences

  • Understands qualitative concepts (e.g., “tall”, “long”, “short”)

  • Understands shapes


4.5 Years

  • Understands “-er” as “one who”…

  • Understands time concepts (e.g., “night”, “day”)

  • Understands noun + 2 modifying adjectives

5 Years

  • Identifies an object that doesn’t belong

  • Understands quantity concepts 3 and 5

  • Indicates body parts on self

  • Understands passive voice sentences


5.5 Years

  • Orders pictures from largest to smallest

  • Understands quantity concepts (e.g., “half”, “full”)

  • Understands time/sequence concepts (e.g., “first”, “last”)


6 Years

  • Identifies initial sounds

  • Understands quantitative concepts (e.g., “each”)

  • Understands rhyming sounds


6.5 Years

  • Adds and subtracts numbers to five

  • Understands time concepts (e.g., seasons)

What should my child be able to express?

1.5 Years

  • Imitates words

  • Uses 5-10 words

  • Vocalizes and uses gestures to make requests

  • Produces different types of consonant-vowel combinations

  • Babbles short syllable strings with inflection similar to adult speech


2 Years

  • Names objects in pictures

  • Uses words more often than gestures to communicate

  • Asks questions

  • Uses words for a variety of pragmatic functions

  • Uses different word combinations


2.5 Years

  • Uses plurals

  • Combines 3 or 4 words in spontaneous speech

  • Answers “what” and “where” questions

  • Uses verb + ing

  • Uses a variety of nouns, verbs, modifiers, and pronouns in spontaneous utterances


3 Years

  • Produces basic 4-5 word sentences

  • Names a variety of pictured objects

  • Tells how an object is used

  • Uses possessives


3.5 Years

  • Answers questions logically

  • Uses words that describe physical state

  • Completes analogies

  • Answers questions about hypothetical events


4 Years

  • Responds to “where” questions

  • Complete analogies

  • Names objects when the object is described


4.5 Years

  • Responds to “why” questions by giving a reason

  • Names categories

  • Repeats sentences

  • Uses qualitative concepts “short” and “long”

  • Uses “-er” to indicate “one who”

  • Uses past tense forms


5 Years

  • Formulates meaningful, grammatically correct questions in response to picture stimuli

  • Describes similarities

  • Names the items that fit into categories


5.5 Years

  • Completes similes

  • Counts items and gives correct number

  • Repairs semantic absurdities


6 Years

  • Defines words

  • Repairs grammatical errors

  • Rhymes words

  • Segments words


6.5 Years

  • Tells a story in sequence, using grammatically correct sentences

  • Tells a story with introduction, sequence, and conclusion

  • Uses irregular plurals

  • Expresses quantity (e.g., “empty”, “more”)

Typical Language Development
Preschool Language Scale—Fourth Edition. The Psychological Corporation (2002).

bottom of page