Children's comprehension of pronouns and definites


  • Saskia Brockmann
  • Sara McConnell
  • Valentine Hacquard
  • Jeffrey Lidz


We present an experiment which tests children’s comprehension of the requirements of use of pronouns and definites. An adult-like use of definites and pronouns imposes different but related requirements. In the case of definites, a unique referent is required in the context, whereas in the case of a pronoun, the referent in the context has to be salient. In this experiment, we use a novel word task to test three-year-olds’ sensitivity to these requirements. Our results show that children are adult-like in their sensitivity to salience in their comprehension of pronouns, compared to definites. However, they failed to show sensitivity to the uniqueness requirement on the use of definites.




How to Cite

Brockmann, S., McConnell, S., Hacquard, V., & Lidz, J. (2019). Children’s comprehension of pronouns and definites. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 22(1), 259–276. Retrieved from