Production of temporal terms by 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children

Janie Busby Grant, Thomas Suddendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated changes in the production of temporal terms over the preschool years. Ninety-three parents of 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children completed a questionnaire in which they indicated their child's production, and accurate use, of a list of temporal words. The results suggest that use and command emerge at different ages for different terms. Correlation and difference analyses were conducted to document the pattern of development. Words representing the present (e.g., now) and very general temporal terms (e.g., ‘later’) were produced and used accurately by the majority of even the youngest children. Some terms describing specific timeframes (e.g., ‘yesterday’) were also produced from a young age but demonstrated more gradual acquisition of appropriate use across the preschool years. Other terms appeared in children's vocabularies only later in the preschool years, and were inaccurately used even by the oldest children (e.g., ‘hours’). These findings provide an initial survey of reported child competence with temporal words that has implications for research, education, and judicial contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-95
Number of pages9
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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