Reading and Writing

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 679-699

First online:

Syntactic skills in sentence reading comprehension among Chinese elementary school children

  • Pakey Pui-man ChikAffiliated withDepartment of Curriculum and Instruction, Centre for Learning Study, The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • , Connie Suk-han HoAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The University of Hong Kong Email author 
  • , Pui-sze YeungAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The University of Hong Kong
  • , David Wai-ock ChanAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • , Kevin Kien-hoa ChungAffiliated withDepartment of Special Education and Counselling, The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • , Hui LuanAffiliated withFaculty of Social Sciences, Psychology Unit, Hong Kong Baptist University
  • , Lap-yan LoAffiliated withDepartment of Counselling and Psychology, Hong Kong Shue Yan University
  • , Wendy Suet-yee LauAffiliated with

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The present study examined the role of syntactic skills for reading comprehension in Chinese. Two hundred and seventy-two Chinese children were tested on their phonological processing, orthographic, morphological, syntactic, and literacy skills at Grades 1 and 2. Hierarchical multiple regression results showed that syntactic skills, in terms of word order, connective usage, and knowledge of morphosyntactic structure (measured by an oral cloze task) in Grade 1, significantly predicted sentence reading comprehension in Grade 2 after controlling for the children’s age, IQ, and word level reading-related cognitive skills in Grade 1, and word reading in Grade 2. As in alphabetic languages, syntactic skills are essential for reading comprehension in Chinese. The unique roles of individual syntactic skills for understanding sentences in Chinese are discussed.


Reading comprehension Chinese Syntactic skills