Usage-based theories are far from offering a complete account of how language works. Meaningful generalizations that children make from hearing spoken sentences and phrases are not the whole story of how children construct sentences either — there are generalizations that make sense but are not grammatical (for example, “He disappeared the rabbit”).

Out of all the possible meaningful yet ungrammatical generalizations children could make, they appear to make very few. The reason seems to be they are sensitive to the fact that the language community to which they belong conforms to a norm and communicates an idea in just “this way.” They strike a delicate balance, though, as the language of children is both creative (“I goed to the shops”) and conformative to grammatical norms (“I went to the shops”). There is much work to be done by usage-based theorists to explain how these forces interact in childhood in a way that exactly explains the path of language development.