Constituent structure is formulated in one stage

Martin J. Pickering, Holly P. Branigan, Janet F. McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


In four syntactic priming experiments, participants completed target fragments as “prepositional object” sentences (e.g., “The patient showed his leg to the doctor”) or “double object” sentences (e.g., “The patient showed the doctor his leg”) or used another non-ditransitive form. The syntactic form of a prime sentence affected the form of participants' target completions. Experiments 1 to 3 used written sentence completion. Experiment 1 demonstrated that priming is a two-way process by comparing “prepositional object” and “double object” priming conditions with a baseline condition containing an intransitive verb. Experiments 2 and 3 found that “shifted” primes (e.g., “The racing driver showed to the helpful mechanic the problem with the car”) did not prime the production of “prepositional object” sentences but instead behaved like baseline primes. Experiment 4 found similar results to those of Experiment 3 in spoken sentence production, where participants repeated the prime and then completed it. We interpret the results in terms of accounts that assume that constituent structure is formulated in one stage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-605
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Syntax
  • Priming
  • Production
  • Formulation
  • Constituent
  • Dative


Dive into the research topics of 'Constituent structure is formulated in one stage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this