Two experiments examined four-, five-, and six-year-old children's understanding of indirect requests. The experimental tasks required the children to judge the appropriateness of a listener's response to indirect requests involving an affirmative syntactic construction (Can you shut the door?), requests containing a negative element (Can't you answer the phone?), and requests for the state of affairs mentioned in the predicate to be changed (Must you play the piano?). Even the youngest age group exhibited an understanding of the first two types of indirect requests. However, only the six year olds showed any understanding of requests for a change in the state of affairs mentioned in the predicate. Possible factors responsible for children's difficulty with these requests are discussed.
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