Receptive vs. Expressive Language Skills: 2-3 Years Old

Feb 24, 2020 | Resources for Infants, Toddlers & Kids | 0 comments

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As your child continues to grow, their receptive and expressive language skills will expand and become more complex.

Special thanks to Collaborative Corner and their help in providing this resource.

What should your child be understanding and expressing from two to three years of age?
According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, there are developmental milestones that your child should meet:


  • Understands opposites such as up/down, stop/go, and qualitative concepts such as big/little
  • Follows two step directions such as, “get your cup and bring it to me”
  • Understands new words at a rapid rate


  • Labels objects in their environment
  • Talks about things that are not sight
  • Produces sounds k, g, f, t, d, and n in words
  • Uses words such as in, on, and under to describe
  • Uses 2-3 word phrases consistently to comment / request
  • Familiar people can understand your child when they speak
  • Uses three word phrases to talk about things
  • Imitates sounds and words to grow vocabulary

What can you do to help them with their skills?

  • Narrate your activities of daily living. For example, when driving in the car, “oh look, the light is red. Red means stop. Now the light is green, time to go”!
  • Practice hand over hand assistance when following directions. Gently guide your little one to the object, then practice follow through of the direction.
  • Read daily. Practice identifying the objects you name. Assist your child in pointing to animals, colors, and actions.
  • Watch for mastery of age appropriate speech sounds.
  • Practice labeling spatial concepts. For example, “your ball is under the table”.
  • Practice expanding phrases. When your child labels an object or makes a request, try modeling a longer phrase. For example, “I heard you say juice. You could also say, more juice please”.
  • Incorporate songs and nursery rhymes in daily routines. Practice adding pause time to allow your child to vocalize when the music stops.

If your child is 2-3 years old and appears to be behind on these milestones, it is recommended that you speak to your child’s pediatrician. A referral to a speech-language pathologist may be warranted at this time.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our speech-language pathologist on our Panel, free of charge.

For more information, please visit

ASHA: Two to Three Years

Alyssa Bloxam, M.A., CCC-SLP
Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist


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