Effects of frequency and morphosyntactic structure on error detection, correction, and repetition in Swedish-speaking children

Anna Eva Hallin, Christina Reuterskiöld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Grammatical error detection and correction are often used to test explicit language knowledge. This study investigated effects of token frequency and error type in error detection, correction, and repetition, and performance on the three tasks were compared and related to models of metalinguistic awareness and development. Thirty Swedish-speaking 10-year-olds with typical language development participated in the study, which focused on four morphosyntactic errors: the infinitive instead of past tense for regular and irregular verbs, and the omission of the obligatory indefinite article in common and neuter gender noun phrases. Target verbs and nouns were of high or low frequency. Results showed significant effects of verb frequency in all tasks, and effects of noun gender for error detection, but not for correction and repetition. Children detected significantly more past-tense errors than they accurately corrected, but the opposite result was seen for noun phrase errors. The patterns of results both within and across tasks imply that implicit language knowledge affects performance, and that lexical frequency, even of familiar words, needs to be controlled when designing tasks for measuring grammatical knowledge. The particular challenge of the Swedish neuter noun phrase in language development and language processing needs to be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1189-1220
Number of pages32
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2018



  • child normal language
  • lexicon and word learning
  • metalinguistic ability
  • morphosyntactic processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology(all)

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