British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 2 Issue 2 (June 1984), Pages 95-190

Young children's comprehension of number markers (pages 105-111)

Young children's comprehension of four number markers (demonstratives, regular nouns, third person of the auxiliary be, and regular present tense verbs) was investigated through their presentation in sentences conveying non‐redundant information about number. Comprehension of each sentence was tested in two tasks: pointing to one of a pair of line drawings and acting out with toys the action described by a sentence. The results indicated that, firstly, the number information carried by the verb is rarely attended to or mastered before some component of the noun phrase; and, secondly, that the is/are allomorphs of the auxiliary be are mastered much earlier than the singular and plural forms of third‐person regular present tense verbs. Both the overall order of difficulty in understanding the four number markers investigated and the analysis of individual data were consistent with the developmental sequence reported by several authors for the acquisition of grammatical morphemes in spontaneous speech production.

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