Toddler Rules of Grammar (Toddler Lessons: Part Eight)

51551bc6f8ec618e2d4a16f583e4019fIt is Toddler Lessons: Part Eight, and we are learning the toddler rules of grammar.

1. Interjections

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.

2. Pronouns

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.

7. Conjunctions

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.


(Please Note: I apologise for any grammatical errors that may have appeared in this post about grammar. It was written by a toddler.)

You can see other posts in my Toddler Lessons series here


The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback


  1. Very impressed with your knowledge of grammar dear lady. May I say that usually English people don’t have a clue what are sone of the words you listed today! The first one has to be my fave. #FridayFrolics

  2. I’m so looking forward to the Popple employing some of these. At 13 months, she’s still pretty much limited to ‘dada’ and, if I’m really lucky, ‘mama’. Bring on the grammatically incorrect toddler musings! #FridayFrolics

  3. I totally bookmarked this! I have a son and when we are walking to school we always so superlatives. We always say big bigger biggest and then start a new one! We even try it on words that are not adjectives and he would tell me it doesnt really sound right. I always want to inject this on our everyday life so that learning would be fun but sometimes I forget the rules in school so this is a great help for me!


  4. This is a great read for sure! My little one is starting to talk more and some of the broken sentences he uses are hilarious! The oppose one for me is always a heart jumper, I instantly get a feeling of dread come over me.

    Jordanne ||

  5. Ellen says:

    I love this! I’m impressed at your grammar knowledge. My nieces and nephews always said ‘bestest’, and they also liked to say ‘me’ rather than ‘I’ – “me do it Mama!!” I am quite looking forward to toddler chat. #FridayFrolics

  6. Min says:

    I have been reading your posts for months (years, possibly) and looking forward to the day when my son finally says something similarly hilarious, instead of just repeating the word “ball” ad infinitum and refusing to say anything else, and I think I finally have one-the interjections! He has taken to saying “oh no” about literally everything. Throws a ball down the garden-“oh no,” then throws it a bit further down the garden and says it again. Hopefully we are finally getting to the talking stage (keeps fingers crossed!) #FridayFrolics

  7. Yesterday my daughter told me ‘it’s not me it’s you’. Not sure if she got the sentence accidentally wrong (or where she learnt it in the first place) or if it really was me! #fridayfrolics

  8. Lovely! I remember the toddler conversations exactly like this! It’s funny how they just seem to suddenly learn to leave out those extra conjunctions or super superlative adjectives. The mind is a wild construct that grows and changes at such a quick rate in the little people!

  9. These Toddler Lessons are definitely the most bestest type of lessons everest. It probably helps my little ones’ cause that I have the grammatical skills of a toddler and so I can generally understand them perfectly. The rest of the humans – not so much!
    I heart this! Thanks for linking with #fartglitter xx

  10. Haha! This is brilliant! And so well thought out! I don’t think I would have known what half of those grammatical terms meant until you put them into context with how a toddler uses them! Love it. #Fridayfrolics

  11. Emma says:

    haha this is funny and impressed with your grammar knowledge! we are just in the why stage at the moment. some days it is exhausting! #BloggerClubUK

  12. Lex says:

    This is so funny. Just the post I needed to read on this miserable Thursday afternoon. Great little observations and very true! #bestandworst

  13. “You do my kitchen and me clean up” is what I’ve been told by my toddler just now! Shes definitely following the toddler rules of grammar 😉 Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily

  14. I love this! it is bang on how Zach is right now but it’s all those little things that I don’t actually want to change because then that means he is growing up! Brilliant post with fab observations 🙂 Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  15. When my 4 year old grandson wants to convince me to see things his way he proposes a compromotion. It is his version of promoting a compromise. The funny thing is I believe he totally understands his made up word. LOL

  16. How confusing! I’m always trying to decipher what my toddler is saying, it’s not easy! I have to say, though, she’s pretty good with 1st person possessive (although in Spanish), and always makes clear what’s hers! #bigpinklink

  17. Lee Gaitan says:

    Hilarious and so timely for me as I start teaching again next Tuesday. I think my adult ESL students will really find this helpful. P.S. I had a NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER list the comparative and superlative forms of “many” as “manier” and “maniest.” And, you know, I kind of like those. 😉

  18. You had me on my toes, Lucy, figuring out the parts of speech and grammatical terms in this post. Can so relate to listening to young ones talk as you know they love to tell stories that go on and on and sometimes take a sharp twist but still end up being the bestest story in the whole wide world!

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