Take the 2-minute tour ×
Parenting Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for parents, grandparents, nannies and others with a parenting role. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My 2y5m old daughter speaks rather well for her age, but she keeps using 3rd person in almost every situation. Whether she speaks about herself or people she addresses to, she uses third person: not "I want to read" but "Sonya wants to read", not "You smile" but "Papa smiles" (while talking to me).

Showing her directly who "I" and "you" in a conversation fails so far: she's not getting the relative nature of these labels and says "I laugh" when I laugh and "you laugh" when she laughs. Watching other people (or cartoon characters) speak to each other also helps little: she only gets interested in the point of the conversation, not the grammar.

What are the good approaches to teach her ways to understand and use first and second persons in speech?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The best way I've found to help with this is to teach them a song where they use the 1st and 2nd person pronouns along with pointing. They would point to themselves when saying I or me. They would point outwards or to someone else when saying you. They will scan their hand across the room or point to multiple people when saying they, etc.

This helped my 3yo bilingual son learn the pronouns and conjugated endings in Persian, which he was having trouble with, even though he had very little trouble with the pronouns in English.

They will gradually learn the proper use of pronouns anyways, so there is not much to worry about, but this seems to help them get there faster.

share|improve this answer

First of all, don't worry too much. Many 2yos have trouble getting pronouns right with regard to person (1st, 2nd, 3rd).

The way you're trying to teach person pronouns is suboptimal because if your child imitates you directly, she's doing it wrong. The easiest language learning begins with direct imitation. So, you can "cheat" by using a puppet or stuffed animal.

It's natural for kids to speak "for" their inanimate friend, so taking turns doing that for a toy (to other toys) is a good way she can imitate you and be correct at the same time. Speak "for" the stuffed animal using pronouns from it's perspective rather than yours.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, it's a good idea; she talks 'for' some toys a lot, and even talks to them 'by phone'. –  9000 Apr 16 '11 at 21:25

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.