Production of definite and indefinite articles in typically developing English-speaking children and children with SLI

Vicky Chondrogianni, Theodoros Marinis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present paper examines the production of definite and indefinite articles in English-speaking typically developing (TD) children and children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Twenty four English-speaking children with SLI (mean age: 7;5), twenty nine TD age-matched (TD-AM) children (mean age: 7;5) and eleven younger (mean age: 5;5) TD vocabulary-matched (TD-VM) children participated in a production task involving short stories without picture props based on Schafer and de Villiers (2000). Article production was examined in two different semantic contexts for the definite article, namely in the anaphoric and the bridging context. In the anaphoric condition, definiteness is established via linguistic means, whereas in the bridging condition via shared world knowledge. Indefinite article production was examined in the referential specific, non-referential predicational, and non-referential instrumental contexts. The referential specific context involves [+speaker, −hearer] knowledge and the non-referential predicational and instrumental [−speaker, −hearer] knowledge. Results showed that in the definite article contexts, all three groups performed better on the bridging compared with the anaphoric condition; in the indefinite article contexts, they had better performance on the non-referential predicational vs. the referential specific and the non-referential instrumental conditions. In terms of errors, the TD-VM children and the children with SLI produced significantly more substitutions than the TD-AM children in the definite article contexts. In the indefinite article contexts, the three groups did not differ in terms of accuracy or error patterns. The present results point towards problems in the discourse integration of entities that are part of the speaker's and hearer's knowledge in children with SLI and TD-VM controls, especially in definite articles. These problems are accentuated in the children with SLI due to their grammatical impairment and suggest that children with SLI exhibit a delayed acquisition profile.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-28
Number of pages19
Early online date8 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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