How much Should My Three Year Old Be Talking?

Enrichment Therapies

January 4, 2017

Are you unsure if your child’s language abilities are developing on time? Do you wonder if your child should be talking or understanding more than they are?

As speech-language pathologists, we look at many communication skills when observing a three-year-old to determine if they are delayed in language development.  We note children’s expressive abilities (what they say) and receptive abilities (what they understand), as well as their play skills.

In this blog, I will outline some key language skills that children should be demonstrating by age three.  Please keep in mind this list is not exhaustive and if your child is not demonstrating all of the skills on time it does not mean that there is a delay or problem!  However, if you feel there is a language concern, consider an evaluation from a speech-language pathologist.  At Enrichment Therapy we are here to help, and early intervention is key!


  • Says both first and last name
  • Is about 75% intelligible to an unfamiliar person (e.g., a person at the store can understand about 75% of what your child says)
  • Combines 3-4 words in a  sentence (e.g., speaks in sentences)
  • Uses many of these sounds: /b/, /p/, /t/, /d/, /m/, /h/, /g/, /k/, /f/, /w/ & all vowels
  • Uses nouns/verbs/pronouns in spontaneous speech (e.g., My ball rolls)
  • Uses all words like “a” “the” “am” “is” and “are” in sentences
  • Can tell at least 3 items from a common category (Tell me something you can eat)
  • Tells at least two things about an object (Tell me about your ball) 


  • Follows 3 step unrelated commands
  • Can identify which object is the smallest from a  group of three
  • Understands pronouns (me, my, your)
  • Responds to WH questions
  • Identifies parts of an object (body parts/ things you wear)


  • Pretends to be someone or something else
  • Takes turns during a game
  • Counts one-to-one correspondence
  • Participates in a play routine for at least one minute with a familiar adult

* Please refer to the ages and stages handout here for more information about your child’s language development. Be sure to check out this blog to learn more about language development for a two-year-old!

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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