Learning "to" in complement constructions

Bloom, Lois; Tackeff, Jo; Lahey, Margaret

The acquisition of to in infinitive complement structure was examined in the spontaneous speech data from four children, who were observed longitudinally from two to three years of age. The children learned to as a complementizer connective in the context of a small group of verbs and other matrix forms that take a verb phrase complement. They did not learn to in the context of the complement verbs to mark the infinitive. Secondly, the children learned to with the meaning ‘direction towards’ and not as a meaningless syntactic marker. These results contribute to understanding the relation between the acquisition of complex syntax and the verb system in child language, and to evaluating traditional and contemporary linguistic theories of infinitive complement structure in English.


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Also Published In

Journal of Child Language

More About This Work

Academic Units
Human Development
Published Here
September 30, 2016