The emergence of grammar: Early verbs and beyond

Sharon Armon-Lotem, Ruth A. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The paper examines the first twenty verb-forms recorded for six Hebrew-speaking children aged between 1;2 and 2;1, and how they evolve into fully inflected verbs for three of these children. Discussion focuses first on what word-forms children initially select for the verbs they produce, what role these forms play in children's emergent grammar, and how emergent grammar is reflected in the acquisition of fully inflected forms of verbs. Children's early verb repertoire indicates that they possess a strong basis for moving into the expression of a variety of semantic roles and the syntax of a range of different verb - argument structures. On the other hand, children's initial use of verbs demonstrates that they still need to acquire considerable language-particular grammatical knowledge in order to encode such relations explicitly. This language-particular knowledge demonstrates a clear pattern of acquisition, in which aspect precedes inflectional marking for gender, followed by tense, and then by person.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-877
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2003


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