Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 1004–1011 | Cite as

Usage frequencies of complement-taking verbs in Spanish and English: Data from Spanish monolinguals and Spanish—English bilinguals

  • Paola E. Dussias
  • Alejandra Marful
  • Chip Gerfen
  • María Teresa Bajo Molina


Verb bias, or the tendency of a verb to appear with a certain type of complement, has been employed in psycholinguistic literature as a tool to test competing models of sentence processing. To date, the vast majority of sentence processing research involving verb bias has been conducted almost exclusively with monolingual speakers, and predominantly with monolingual English speakers, despite the fact that most of the world’s population is bilingual. To test the generality of competing theories of sentence comprehension, it is important to conduct cross-linguistic studies of sentence processing and to add bilingual data to theories of sentence comprehension. Given this, it is critical for the field to develop verb bias estimates from monolingual speakers of languages other than English and from bilingual populations. We begin to address these issues in two norming studies. Study 1 provides verb bias norming data for 135 Spanish verbs. A second aim of Study 1 was to determine whether verb bias estimates remain stable over time. In Study 2, we asked whether Spanish—English speakers are able to learn verb-specific information, such as verb bias, in their second language. The answer to this question is critical to conducting studies that examine when, during the course of sentence comprehension, bilingual speakers exploit verb information specific to the second language. To facilitate cross-linguistic work, we compared our verb bias results with those provided by monolingual English speakers in a previous norming study conducted by Garnsey, Lotocky, Pearlmutter, and Myers (1997). Our Spanish data demonstrated that individual verbs showed significant similarities in their verb bias across the 3 years of data collection. We also show that bilinguals are able to learn the biases of verbs in their second language, even when immersed in the first language environment. Appendixes A–C, containing the bilingual norms discussed in the article, may be downloaded from

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paola E. Dussias
    • 1
  • Alejandra Marful
    • 2
  • Chip Gerfen
    • 1
  • María Teresa Bajo Molina
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Spanish, Italian, and PortuguesePenn State UniversityUniversity Park
  2. 2.Universidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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