Grammatical gender in Spanish child heritage speakers: Incomplete or different acquisition?

Lourdes Martinez-Nieto, Maria Adelaida Restrepo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study examines grammatical gender (GG) production in young Spanish heritage-speakers (HSs) and the potential effect of the children’s language use and their parents’ input. We compared four and eight-year-old HSs to same-age monolingual children on their gender production. We measured GG production in determiners and adjectives via an elicited production task. HSs’ parents reported children’s time in each language and also completed the elicitation task. Results show that HSs’ scored significantly lower than monolinguals in both grammatical structures in which the unmarked masculine default predominates. However, older HSs had higher accuracy than younger HSs. Input from parents is not correlated with HSs’ performance and neither Spanish use nor language proficiency predicts GG performance on HSs. For theories of language acquisition, it is important to consider that although the linguistic knowledge of the HSs may differ from that of monolinguals, their grammar is protracted rather than incomplete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-297
Number of pages31
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 23 2023


  • Spanish grammatical gender
  • Spanish heritage speakers
  • heritage grammars
  • incomplete acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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