Children’s Production of Subject–Verb Agreement in Hebrew When Gender and Context are Ambiguous

Rachel Karniol*, Sigal Artzi, Maya Ludmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Third and 5th grade Hebrew-speaking children performed two sentence completion tasks, one requiring the assignment of male, female, or gender-ambiguous names and the inflection of verbs for male-stereotyped, female-stereotyped, and gender-neutral activities, and the other task, of inflecting verbs for male- and female-stereotyped activities performed by children with gender-ambiguous names. The question of concern was whether when faced with the need to inflect verbs to match the conceptual gender of the sentence subject, the gender-stereotyped nature of the activities in question and children’s own gender would play a role in resolving the dilemma created by gender-ambiguous names and contexts. In both parts of the study, we found that (1) children’s own gender played a role in determining the pattern of verb inflection, and (2) children used their semantic knowledge regarding the gender-stereotyped nature of activities to inflect verbs so as to create subject–verb agreement. Hence, subject–verb agreement in children draws on both their grammatical and semantic knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1515-1532
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Gender stereotypes
  • Gender-ambiguity
  • Hebrew
  • Verb agreement
  • Verb inflection


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