Journal of Child Language

Age- and ability-related differences in young readers' use of conjunctions 1

a1 University of Essex
a2 University of Michigan
a3 University of Essex

Article author query
cain k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
patson n   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
andrews l   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Two studies investigating young readers' use of conjunctions are reported. In Study One, 145 eight- to ten-year-olds completed one of two narrative cloze tasks in which different types of conjunction were deleted. Performance for additive conjunctions was not affected by age in this study, but older children were more likely to select the target conjunction than were younger children for temporal, causal, and adversative terms. Performance was superior in the cloze task in which they were given a restricted choice of responses (three vs. seven). In Study Two, 35 eight- and nine-year-old good and poor comprehenders completed the three-choice cloze task. The poor comprehenders were less likely to select the target terms in general. Sentence-level comprehension skills did not account for their poor performance. The results indicate that understanding of the semantic relations expressed by conjunctions is still developing long after these terms are used correctly in children's speech. The findings are discussed in relation to the role of conjunctions in text comprehension.

(Published Online December 13 2005)
(Received September 1 2004)
(Revised January 27 2005)

c1 Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK. tel: +44 1206 873533; fax: +44 1206 873598; e-mail:


1 Study One was supported by British Academy grant no. SG-34207 awarded to the first author. Study Two was supported by a University of Michigan-Flint Honors Scholar Program Study Abroad Grant, a UM-F Office of Research Undergraduate Research Grant, and a UM-F Office of Development Grant awarded to the second author. We would like to record our thanks to the staff and pupils at the following schools in Essex for their co-operation: John Bunyan Junior, John Ray Junior, Millfield Primary, North Primary, to Simon Bignell and Sharon O'Donnell for acting as blind scorers for the error analysis, and to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.