A child’s first word is one of the most exciting language milestones, and parents are often anticipating what their child’s first meaningful utterance will be. Another important language milestone that receives a lot less attention is a child’s first two-word combination. Parents can often misjudge what their child’s first two-word combination is. This is because they hear their child produce a certain expression that technically consists of two words, but is actually produced as one idea or expression such as ‘thank you’ or ‘good night’.
These expressions are learned as one chunk of language and are therefore not considered to be a two word combination, as they are not a combination of two separate ideas. Some examples of common two word phrases are ‘go car’ or ‘more milk’.
Signs that a child is ready to produce their first two-word combination include:
The use of a varied vocabulary:
Children often acquire a number of nouns (names of people, places, and things) when their vocabulary is initially developing. One factor that influences a child’s ability to produce two word combinations is the presence of other word types such as verbs (action words) such as ‘go’, ‘jump’, ‘get’; adjectives (describing words) such as ‘big’, ‘red’, ‘fast’; and prepositions (location words) such as ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘off’. If a child only possesses nouns it is not possible to produce meaningful two word utterances.
The ability to express two ideas
Before children can use two word combinations to express two ideas they are often expressing two ideas through other methods. So they may say one word then gesture to another idea. For example, a child may call out ‘mum’ then point to the object they desire such as a lolly. In this scenario the child is indicating two separate ideas of mum and lolly to send a distinct message that they are requesting a lolly.
If a child begins to use word types aside from nouns and is combining two ideas through word and gesture combinations, this is an indication that they will soon produce their first two word utterance.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.