Building Sentences – Parents

Building Sentences – Parents

Learning to build sentences is an important skill for young children and begins after children learn to link single words together. This takes place alongside their vocabulary development; the two skills are closely interlinked. Children need to know around 50 words before they will be ready to start building sentences – take a look at the vocabulary pages for some ideas.

Young children learn to build sentences by listening to others; often this skill develops rapidly after they have learned to link 2 or 3 words together. They will make lots of mistakes along the way and rely on adults modeling correct sentences and sometimes correcting mistakes in a supportive way appropriate to their age and stage of development.

Sentence building provides the scaffold for your child’s on-going language development. Once your child can speak in sentences, they can use language to make requests, comment, ask and answer questions, and a number of other purposes! Children’s sentences become increasingly complex and more detailed as they are exposed to more complex language. The complexities of language include knowledge and skills linked to accurate use of:

  • The parts of language e.g. pronouns
  • Tense linked to their concept of time
  • Formulation of questions
  • Language purpose e.g. clarification, summary, explanation, planning, persuasion

Young people also learn to:

  • Explain the rules of grammar
  • Consider the interests of their listener
  • Use intonation to indicate meaning within a sentence or phrase

NB. Your child will produce longer, more grammatically complex spoken sentences before he/she is able to produce written sentences using these grammatical structures. Sentence building stems from spoken communication with others for a range of purposes.

Page last reviewed: 17 April, 2018