When Conversation Is Not Enough: Assessing Infinitival Complements Through Elicitation

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Children with language impairment have been found to show limited usage of infinitival complements, one of the earliest complex sentence types to emerge and a significant form in school-age language. Children's production of infinitival complements in conversation is not sufficient to tell us what they know about this form. This article describes a story completion procedure for eliciting infinitival complements. The procedure includes 2 situational contexts requiring different infinitive sentence forms and a variety of verbs with which infinitival complements can be produced. The child's response includes both production of an utterance to complete each story and then an acting out of the meaning of that utterance. This enables the examiner to look not only at the forms produced by the child but also at the relationship between form and meaning.



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