School-age children's metalinguistic awareness of grammaticality in verb form

J. C. Sutter, C. J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated 6-, 7-, and 8-year-old children's ability to monitor grammaticality in the past progressive, perfect progressive, and perfect verb forms. The children achieved a significantly higher rate of accurate judgments monitoring grammatical forms that ungrammatical forms. Age was a significant factor in error identification. Eight-year-olds were substantially better at identifying ungrammatical forms than were their younger schoolmates. Verb form, in conjunction with type of anomaly, significantly varied with respect to ease of identification. Errors of the auxiliary and suffix were easier for children to identify than an adverbial error which required a sentence analysis to determine the incompatibility. The context surrounding ungrammatical verb forms significantly affected monitoring ability. Anomalous forms in unrelated sentences were easier to identify as ungrammatical than anomalous forms in sentences taken from a story the children had just heard. It appears that school-age children prefer to maintain the semantic intent of the message rather than critically search for grammatical errors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-95
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Metalinguistic
  • judgment
  • school-age language
  • syntax
  • verbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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