The Development of Infinitives from Three to Five

Sarita L. Elsenberg, Helen S. Cairns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This study investigated the form of infinitival sentences produced by young children and their knowledge of the control properties of this sentence form. Twenty-five children between the ages of 3; 7 and 5; 4 participated in a story completion task designed to elicit infinitive sentences and in an act-out comprehension task. Although the infinitive form was productive for even the youngest children in this study, development of this form was not complete even for the five-year-olds, nor did any child demonstrate adult knowledge of control. In addition, two competing claims regarding order of acquisition (that of Limber, 1973, and Hyams, 1985) were evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-734
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1994


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