Word frequency effects on the processing of subject-verb number agreement

Jason Barker, Janet Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper examines the role of word frequency in the computation of subject-verb number agreement. Previous research in both production and comprehension has demonstrated that processing difficulties can arise in sentence structures containing a singular subject noun followed by a plural "distractor" noun, as in The key to the cabinets…. A whole sentence reading task was employed to determine whether the relative frequency with which the distractor noun appears in its singular or plural form would affect the degree of processing difficulty experienced by readers. Results suggest that the agreement process is, indeed, sensitive to this factor and this finding is compatible with activation-based accounts of the implementation of number agreement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of psycholinguistic research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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