Reading and Writing

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 679–699

Syntactic skills in sentence reading comprehension among Chinese elementary school children


  • Pakey Pui-man Chik
    • Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Centre for Learning StudyThe Hong Kong Institute of Education
    • Department of PsychologyThe University of Hong Kong
  • Pui-sze Yeung
    • Department of PsychologyThe University of Hong Kong
  • David Wai-ock Chan
    • Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of EducationThe Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Kevin Kien-hoa Chung
    • Department of Special Education and CounsellingThe Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • Hui Luan
    • Faculty of Social Sciences, Psychology UnitHong Kong Baptist University
  • Lap-yan Lo
    • Department of Counselling and PsychologyHong Kong Shue Yan University
  • Wendy Suet-yee Lau

DOI: 10.1007/s11145-010-9293-4

Cite this article as:
Chik, P.P., Ho, C.S., Yeung, P. et al. Read Writ (2012) 25: 679. doi:10.1007/s11145-010-9293-4


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 comprehensionChineseSyntactic skills

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011