Children’s Knowledge of the Spanish Copulas Ser and Estar with Novel Adjectives

Pablo E. Requena, Astrid I. Román-Hernández, Karen Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Previous research suggests that children’s behavior with respect to the interpretation of the Spanish copulas ser and estar may differ depending on their knowledge of the world and whether the copulas occur with real adjectives or novel adjectives in the experimental prompt: Whereas 5-year-old children associate estar + real adjective combinations to temporary properties (Schmitt & Miller 2007), children as old as 12 years of age are not adultlike in their interpretation of estar + novel adjective combinations, where novel adjectives are paired with properties for which children already have a Spanish word (Alonqueo 2007). In this article, we present two experimental studies on Puerto Rican children’s use of copulas and show that when novel adjectives are paired with novel properties and those novel adjectives occur in the experimental prompt with the copula estar, children associate the novel adjective to a temporary property by 4 years of age. These results highlight the importance of the copula to the meaning of the copula + adjective combination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-207
Number of pages15
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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