Some Cues Are Stronger Than Others: The (non)interpretation Of 3rd Person Present —s As A Tense Marker By 6- And 7-year-olds
This article describes two experiments examining how 6- and 7-year-old Standard American English-speaking children interpret 3rd person present –s as a tense marker, as compared to lexical items and past tense –ed. Because –s corresponds to multiple meanings, unlike –ed, it may result in later acquisition. Using an offline picture-choice task (Experiment 1), the study found that while all children successfully comprehended –ed, only the 7-year-olds successfully comprehended –s. Eye-tracking measures (Experiment 2) revealed that the 6-year-olds are actually sensitive to –s, but that it is not yet a particularly strong cue for them. The article argues that offline tasks may underestimate children’s developing knowledge.
Beyer, Tim, and Carla L. Hudson Kam. 2009. "Some cues are stronger than others: The (non)interpretation of 3rd person present —s as a tense marker by 6- and 7-year-olds." First Language 29(2): 208-227.