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When we think about promoting language development, we often think about this in terms of adding more nouns to a child’s vocabulary bank. (Nouns are the words used to describe a person, place, animal, or thing).

Children acquire nouns before they acquire verbs because nouns are concrete words. When children are starting to talk, they quickly learn that if they name something they often will get it. While nouns are very important, it is equally important to teach children verbs.  

Why are Verbs Important?

  1. ​Sentence Formation 

 You can’t make a sentence without verbs.

“Jane the ball”, does not make sense. But “Jane kicks the ball" does.

 The inclusion of verbs in sentences, enable children to make different sentence types:

  •       Making a statement: e.g. "Jane kicked the ball".

  •       Asking a question:e.g.  "Did Jane kick the ball?"

  •       Giving a command: :"Kick the ball".

  •       Expressing a state of being : "Jane is tired from kicking the ball".

​2. Verb Acquisition Improves Grammar and Syntax skills.

Research shows that children who use more verbs, have more advanced grammatical skills and syntax skills (sentence building skills).

When Should Children Start Using Verbs?

As with everything, there is variability as to when children should be using verbs. Generally speaking, most children should have at least some verbs by the time they are 24 months of age. They should have approximately 10 verbs by 27 months of age and no less than 46 verbs by 30 months of age.

How to teach verbs.

  • Keep track of all of the verbs that your child uses by writing them down. This will allow you to know the words you can be helping your child to learn. It will also help you see if they are acquiring new verbs each month.

  • Show your child what the verbs means.Children need to understand a word before they use it. Give examples of its meaning in real time. For example, say "brushing, brushing, brushing",  when brushing hair etc.

  • Repeat the verb as often as possible. Children need many repetitions of a word before they will start using the word themselves.


What verbs do I start with?

For children who are just learning to talk, general, all-purpose verbs are a good place to start. These are verbs that are used often and apply to a range of items, places, and scenarios. Please see the table below for examples of general, all-purpose verbs.



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