Children's production and comprehension of questions

Dorothy Tyack, David Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


This study examined children's production and comprehension of questions, with the aim of discovering possible patterns in question acquisition. For the production study, questions were collected from 22 children aged 2; 0-3; 11. The data show a high frequency of yes-no, what, and where questions by age 2; o. Why and how questions were infrequent but they increased with age. Who and when questions were rarely asked by children of any age. From the frequency data a rough chronological order of acquisition was inferred: what, where, why, how, when. In the comprehension study 100 children were tested, aged 3; 0—5; 5. The test controlled syntax and vocabulary and varied specific wh- question-words. The frequency of correct answers increased with the age of the children. When children made mistakes, their answers were not random but appeared to be following certain questionanswering strategies. These included attention to semantic features of verbs and especially the placement of verbs in the sentence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-224
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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