Six year old always says "Her" instead of "She"

Across the street from my house lives a six year old girl who seems in all other ways perfectly normal. (She asks strange questions like “Can I play in your car” but I figure six-year-olds ask strange questions. Also, she seems to be in a perpetual state of believing her birthday is “tomorrow” but again, you know, kids. (I suppose?))

But, strangely, she doesn’t seem to know how to say the word “she.” Instead of “she,” she says “her.” She doesn’t just do this often or usually, but rather, as far as I can tell, she does this every time a sentence calls for the use of the word “she.”

She seems to have the he/him distinction down fine. It’s just she/her that she gets wrong.

“Can her play outside?”
“Her’s got three bicycles.”
“I don’t think her wants to go.”

Like that.

Basically, my question is, anyone know what the heck might be going on here? Is this possibly dialectical? Is there any kind of cognitive deficit that leads to things like this? Or what?


Is the child black? Because that does seem to be at least somewhat dialect-ish around here at least among Southern African Americans.

Anyway, kids that age play with language, too. When my nephew was younger than that (maybe 4?) he’d say things like, I don’t know, “We swummed today.” and I’d ape him and he’d say “No, no! You say swam! I say swummed!” So there’s that as well.

She’s white. Appears to be somewhere low on the economic scale. Has a clear Texas (north central OK border) accent.

Maybe, but this doesn’t seem playful.


I’m surer it’s not relevant in this case but I’ll throw it into the mix. Her for she is common in the Devonshire accent of England.

‘Er won’t be comin’ out today, 'er’s ill.

And in general the object case is very slowly gaining against the subject case in spoken English. If she still does this in a few years, I’d worry, but for six… not a big deal.

Maybe her is just ahead of she time.

Citation please.


Kids get this sort of thing wrong, it’s no big deal. One of my sisters used to say “lend” for “borrow” (“Can I lend that book you’re reading?”) One of my nephews said “much” for “many” (“How much presents did you get for Christmas?”) They got over it eventually.

Kids like to play in cars. Do you think it’s strange because of the content, or am I missing something grammatical? (May I?)

This wouldn’t surprise me in a 3-4 year-old at all. 6 seems a little old. I’ve heard grandmothers intentionally swap objects for subjects in baby-talk. If that constitutes the majority of what the child hears day-to-day, then she just may not have learned how most people say it. She could also be delayed in some way.

Her just messin’ wit youse.

Kid who I’ve only briefly met one time walks up to my house, knocks on the door, and when I say “Hi,” answers with “Can I play in your car?” This struck me as kind of funny. But like I said, I figure that’s just kids.


Is it a nice car?

This reminds me of a story we got in first-year general linguistics:

Child: waving a toy This my fish. (he pronounces it ‘fiss’)
Researcher: Your fiss?
Child: No, my fiss.
Researcher: That’s your fiss?
Child: :mad: No, this my fiss!
Researcher: Do you mean your fish?
Child: Yes, my fiss!

Language acquisition in childhood is weird. :smiley: Six seems a bit old to be mixing up the subject and object case, though…

I hate to blame parents, but, I blame the parents.

I’ve seen (heard, really) similar patterns in the speech of my little nieces and nephews, whose parents speak to them in pseudo-“baby talk” well beyond a reasonable age for that sort of thing. As a result, the kids have a lot of pronoun confusion. The most common I’ve heard from the kids is “my” instead of “I”, as in, “My want it.” The grandparents are just as bad; I’ve heard stuff like, “Her doesn’t like that,” and such. As a result, my wife and I have made a concerted effort to avoid the baby talk when speaking to our little one, who is now 18 months old. Full sentences are a little way off yet, but so far, so good.

I’m more worried that she always believes her birthday is “tomorrow.” By that age, she should be in kindergarten. Even if her parents didn’t teach her the basics of the calendar before, she should be learning it in school by now. We always recited the full day and date as a class every morning, and a student would have to go find and mark the date on a big calendar at the front of the class. What school-age kid doesn’t have a concept of the calendar, and where their birthday and other holidays are on it (even if they don’t know the exact dates)?

Unless it’s another language thing, and she thinks “tomorrow” means “some time in the future that isn’t today.”

Nothing to add, really, but a similar language quirk shows up in one of Mick Foley’s books. I think it was Foley is Good. His daughter (who’s about 5) said “him’s” for “his” and “him” for “he.”

That’s the stage my 3 year old is working out. About 2/3 of the time, “yesterday” means, “In the past” and “tomorrow” means “in the future”. She’s starting to produce “once” or “one time” instead of yesterday, but future things are still almost always happening tomorrow. If this was still going on at 6, I’d be very concerned about cognitive development. But it would have to be a persistent pattern - is everything in the future “tomorrow”, or only this girl’s birthday?

IANASpeech Pathologist, but the OP has my warning bells ringing. I’m not sure how, but her parents should probably be urged to consult a development psychologist for evaluation. I don’t think the OP is wrong to be concerned.

Just an anecdote from my own life, I was still saying “I are”, “she are”, “he are” at about that age. I eventually got the hang of it. Hell, I have honours degrees in Science, Humanities and Law.

Years later, I was told that my todler brain was ‘regularizing’ the messy English pronoun system. That could have something to do with what your neighbour is doing. I wouldn’t worry about it.

Edit - '‘Regularizing’ the messy English pronoun system sounds much better than “He’s just a little slow”. :slight_smile: