Do infants understand language rules, and what does this mean?

Read, read, read, speak, speak, speak, from day 1!

A biracial couple are reading a book together with their baby who looks terribly interested. The parents is filled with joy.

This video shows that even very young children under the age of 2 are very much aware of noun and verb rules! They know when language is used incorrectly. This give us more food for thought on questions of bilingualism, but the bottom line is clear: Speak and read to your child as much as possible, right from the beginning!

In the game at the beginning, the buzzer goes off when a syntax rule is broken – typically when noun and verb rules are misused. Interestingly, even when a word is made-up, a child brain reacts, showing their awareness regarding incorrect usage.

Noun-verb rules

In English, some words function as a noun and verb.

The bin (n) is full. Bin (v) this report, it’s out-of-date. Works with trash, too.

I love my work(n). I work(n) in education.

Let’s drink(v) something refreshing. Sure, cool drinks(n) are so refreshing in summer.

The made-up French words

The French dialogs use and later misuse the nonsensical words pooner, le rale, and dumer. These fake verbs end in -er, the first and most common group of verbs, while the noun is a masculine “le” word. Watch the video and see what happens!

From general observation in the classroom, beginners are sometimes confused by noun-verbs like answer, break or hand. However, they enjoy learning through play using concrete examples such as toast, glue, or dance.

Further reading: 100 words that be used as a noun or a verb.

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