It is Toddler Lessons: Part Eight, and we are learning the toddler rules of grammar.
Interjections are good. Toddlers use them as much as possible. In order to add that element of intrigue and suspense, toddlers like to use certain interjections – ‘oh dear’ and ‘oops’, mostly – with no further clarification, leaving nearby adults desperately trying to work out what the toddler has done/broken.
Pronouns are an all or nothing deal in toddler grammar. Initially, they should not be used at all. However, once introduced into the vocabulary, it is entirely acceptable to construct entire sentences out of just pronouns: ‘Hello, Mummy. The Baby thought you were you, but you’re not you, you’re you.’ Anyone who tells you this is a risky and confusing strategy should be ignored.
3. Superlative Adjectives
In toddler grammar, all adjectives are superlative. Preferably, the superlative adjectives used should be words that are not entirely correct, at least in formal English, like ‘bestest’ and ‘favouritest’. In order to make the superlative even more superlative, it is good practice to also add ‘most’. It is a matter of personal choice, of course, but this is the most bestest way to do it.
4. Double Negatives
There is nothing wrong with a double negative. Indeed, if possible, negatives should be triple or even quadruple: ‘I don’t never want to not never take it back.’
5. Subject-Verb Agreement
Subject-verb agreement is seldom reached in toddler grammar. In fact, as with all areas of toddler life, there is a fair amount of disagreement between subjects and verbs. The subject and the verb are probably having a fight about who was playing with the adjective first.
6. Dependent Clauses
Dependent clauses can absolutely stand alone in toddler grammar: ‘Because of marmalade.’ There is really no need to bother with the part of the sentence that the clause was dependent on: people will work it out.
It is, of course, a myth that a sentence cannot start with a conjunction. However, the toddler assertion that a sentence can end with a conjunction is more controversial: ‘Mummy, I was going to play with my bus, but.’ It is also perfectly permissible in toddler grammar to use conjunctions to join other conjunctions: ‘Mummy, when but but and and then so!’
8. Relative Clauses
In toddler grammar, defining relative clauses are avoided, as it just does not do to go around giving people essential information that they need in order to understand what is going on. Non-defining relative clauses, on the other hand, those providing information we just did not actually need, can go on for three years.
You can see other posts in my Toddler Lessons series here