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Why does my child speak in short phrases?

My 2-year-old son uses short phrases like "Want food" rather than complete sentences. Why is he doing this?
Submitted by Parents Team

Two-year-olds' sentences are very different from those of older kids and adults. When a kid this age says "I see truck" rather than "I can see the truck," he's using what's known as telegraphic speech, which means he's using only the parts he needs to get his point across. To encourage your child to speak in full sentences, repeat what he says in correct sentence form. By age 3, most children stop using telegraphic speech. --Natalie Walker Whitlock

Copyright 2004. Reprinted with permission from the June 2000 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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