The Main Determinant of English Sentences Comprehension by Chinese EFL Learners: The Verb or the Construction?


Using the self-paced reading, this paper investigated the role of verbs or constructions when Chinese EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners try to understand an English sentence. Previous researches on the main determinant in English sentences comprehension had two different views. Healy and Miller (1970) held that the verb is the main determinant of sentence meaning, while Bencini and Goldberg (2000) held that the construction is directly associated with sentence meaning. However, studies from English as a second language may provide a clue of the main determinant of English sentence meaning. The paper classified English resultatives into four types: the Subcategorized Object Resultative, the Non-subcategorized Object Resultative, the Fake Reflexive Resultative and the No Object Resultative. The paper investigated high-level Chinese English learners’ understanding of the English resultative constructions which have the same surface structure but different deep structures (the first three types). The result showed that the acquisition of subcategorized object resultatives is better than non-subcategorized object resultatives. Therefore, this paper argues that although the construction has a suppressing impact on the verb, the basic determinant of English sentences comprehension by Chinese EFL learners is the verb.

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Cao, Z. and Zhou, C. (2014) The Main Determinant of English Sentences Comprehension by Chinese EFL Learners: The Verb or the Construction?. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 4, 379-387. doi: 10.4236/ojml.2014.42031.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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