What is Grammar?

When we talk about helping children who have speech and language delays with grammar, we are talking about all of those little words and word parts that help us make complete sentences. Without grammar, our sentences would sound choppy or telegraphic. For example, instead of saying “Johnny and I want to play with the ball”, we would just say “Johnny..I…want…play…ball”. The main point of the message is there but it doesn’t flow the way it should.


Children with language delays often have difficulty with pronouns. Here is information about when pronouns are typically found in children’s speech. Keep in mind that these are rough estimates and every child is different. Is your child varies from this slightly, there is no need to be alarmed. However, if the child varies significantly, he or she may require some extra help with pronouns.

Age Pronouns
12-26 mos I, it
27-30 mos my, me, mine, you
31-34 mos your, she, he, yours, we
35-40 mos they, us, hers, his, them, her
41-46 mos its, our, him, myself, yourself, ours, their, theirs
47+ mos herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves

Grammatical Morphemes

Grammatical morphemes are markers that change the meaning of a word. For example, the plural “-s” can be added to a word to indicate that there is more than one of it, such as “bug” to “bugs”. These markers can be word endings (like “-ing”), small words (like “is”), or they can change the word all together, like irregular past tense (like swim to swam). Here are a list of the grammatical morphemes and when they should be mastered by. Again, these are rough estimates so don’t panic if your child is just a bit off.

Age Morpheme
19-28 mos Present Progressive “-ing” (ex: swimming)
29-38 mos Regular Plural “-s” (ex: bags)
Possessive’s (Molly’s baby)
Present Tense Auxiliaries (helping verbs like: can, will, be, do)
43-46 mos Regular Past Tense “-ed” (jumped)
Irregular Past Tense (ran, swam)
Regular third-person-singular, present tense (he drinks, she eats)
Articles (a, the)
47-50 mos Auxiliaries and copulas in all tenses (helping verbs like “is”, “will”, “does”)
Irregular Third Person Regular Singular (She has it)
Past Tense “be” verb (He was dancing)