Professor Ben Ambridge, Institute of Psychology, Health & Society, University of Liverpool

My books my blog my band my Observer column my Liverpool page

My ERC Project: CLASS: Crosslinguistic Acquisition of Sentence Structure


My papers


In press

Ambridge, B. (in press). Horses for courses: When acceptability judgments are more suitable than structural priming (and vice versa). Commentary on Branigan and Pickering. Behavioural and Brain Sciences. [pdf]

Ambridge, B. & Blything, R.P. (in press). A connectionist model of the retreat from verb argument structure overgeneralization. Journal of Child Language. [pdf]

Aguado-Orea, J., Otero, N. & Ambridge, B. (in press). Statistics and Semantics in the acquisition of Spanish word order: Testing two accounts of the retreat from locative overgeneralization errors. Linguistics Vanguard. [docx]

Ambridge, B. (in press). Syntactic categories in child language acquisition: innate, induced or illusory? In Cohen, H. & Lefebvre, C. (Eds). Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science. Amsterdam: Elsevier. [docx]



Ambridge, B., Bidgood, A., Pine, J.M., Rowland, C.F. & Freudenthal, D. (2016). Is passive syntax semantically constrained? Evidence from adult grammaticality judgment and comprehension studies. Cognitive Science, 40(6) 1435-1459 [open access]

Twomey, K., Chang, F., & Ambridge, B. (2016). Lexical distributional cues, but not situational cues, are readily used to learn abstract locative verb-structure associations. Cognition, 153, 124-139 [open access]

Rasanen, S. H. M., Ambridge, B. & Pine, J. M. (2016). An elicited-production study of inflectional verb morphology in child Finnish. Cognitive Science, 40(7), 1704- 1738 [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Bannard, C., & Jackson, G.H. (2015). Is grammar spared in Autism Spectrum Disorder? Data from judgments of verb argument structure overgeneralization errors. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 45(10), 3288-3296. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Bidgood, A., Twomey, E., Pine, J.M., Rowland, C.F. & Freudenthal, D. (2015). Preemption versus Entrenchment: Towards a construction-general solution to the problem of the retreat from verb argument structure overgeneralization. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0123723. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123723 [open access]

Ambridge, B., & Lieven, E.V.M. (2015). A Constructivist account of child language acquisition. In B. MacWhinney and W. O'Grady (Eds). Handbook of Language Emergence. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell. (pp. 478-510) [docx]

Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., & Lieven, E.V.M. (2015). Explanatory adequacy is not enough: Response to commentators. Language: Perspectives. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Rowland, C.F., Theakston, A.L. & Kidd, E.J. (2015). The ubiquity of frequency effects in first language acquisition. Journal of Child Language, 42(2), 239-73 [Target article + commentaries] [open access]

Ambridge, B. (2015). Island constraints and overgeneralization in language acquisition. Cognitive Linguistics, 26(2), 361-370. [pdf]

Blything, R.P. Ambridge, B., & Lieven, E.V.M. (2014). Children use statistics and semantics in the retreat from overgeneralization. PLoS ONE, 9(10) e110009. [open access]

Ambridge, B., Noble, C., & Lieven, E.V.M. (2014). The semantics of the transitive causative construction: Evidence from a forced-choice pointing study with adults and children. Cognitive Linguistics, 25(2), 293-311. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., & Lieven, E.V.M. (2014). Child Language Acquisition: Why Universal Grammar doesn't help. Language: Perspectives. [pdf] [commentaries (zip)] [Response (pdf)]

Twomey, K., Chang, F., & Ambridge, B. (2014). Do as I say, not as I do: A lexical distributional account of English locative verb class acquisition. Cognitive Psychology [pdf]

Bidgood, A., Ambridge, B., Pine, J.M. & Rowland, C.F. (2014). The retreat from locative overgeneralisation errors: A novel verb grammaticality judgment study. PLoS ONE, 9(5), e97634 [open access] [Excel data]

Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M, Rowland, C. F., Freudenthal, D.,  & Chang, F. (2014).  Avoiding dative overgeneralization errors: semantics, statistics or both? Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 29(2), 218-243. [pdf] [Appendices]

Ambridge, B. (2014). Psy-Q. London: Profile / New York: Penguin [book]

Rasanen, S. H. M., Ambridge, B. & Pine, J. M. (2014). Infinitives or bare stems? Are English-speaking children defaulting to the highest frequency form? Journal of Child Language .[pdf]

Ambridge, B. (2013). How do children restrict their linguistic generalizations?: an (un-)grammaticality judgment study. Cognitive Science, 37 (3), 508-543. [Open Access]

Ambridge, B.,  & Rowland, C. F. (2013).  Experimental methods in studying child language acquisition. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 4, 149–168. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Pine, J.M., Rowland, C.F., Chang, F.  & Bidgood, A. (2013).  The retreat from overgeneralization in child language acquisition: Word learning, morphology and verb argument structure. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 4: 47–62. [pdf]

Ambridge, B. (2013). Just who didn't eat what, exactly? Negation and universal quantification in the real world. Linguistic Approaches to Billingualism, 3(3), 287–288 [pdf]

Ambridge, B. & Brandt, S. (2013). "Lisa filled water into the cup": The roles of entrenchment, pre-emption and verb semantics in German speakers’ L2 acquisition of English locatives. Zeitschrift fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 61(3), 245-263 [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Pine, J.M. & Rowland, C.F. (2012). Semantics versus statistics in the retreat from locative overgeneralization errors. Cognition, 123(2) 260–279. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F. & Chang, F. (2012). The roles of verb semantics, entrenchment and morphophonology in the retreat from dative argument structure overgeneralization errors. Language, 88(1) 45–81. [pdf]

Rowland, C.F., Chang, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., & Lieven, E.V.M. (2012). The development of abstract syntax: Evidence from structural priming and the lexical boost. Cognition, 125(1) 49–63. [pdf]

Ambridge, B. & Lieven, E.V.M., (2011) Child Language Acquisition: Contrasting theoretical approaches. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. [book preview]

Ambridge, B. (2011) Paradigms for assessing children’s knowledge of syntax and morphology in E. Hoff (ed.) Guide to Research Methods in Child Language. London: Blackwell-Wiley (pp 113-132). [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Pine, J.M. & Rowland, C.F., (2011). Children use verb semantics to retreat from overgeneralization errors: A novel verb grammaticality judgment study. Cognitive Linguistics, 22(2), 303–323. [pdf]

Ambridge, B. (2010). Children’s judgments of regular and irregular novel past tense forms: New data on the dual- versus single-route debate. Developmental Psychology 46(6), 1497-1504. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F., Jones, R.L, & Clark, V. (2009). A semantics-based approach to the ‘no negative-evidence’ problem Cognitive Science, 33(7), 1301-1316. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., & Rowland, C.F. (2009). Predicting children’s errors with negative questions: Testing a schema-combination account. Cognitive Linguistics, 20(2), 225-266. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Pine, J.M., Rowland, C.F. & Young, C.R. (2008) The effect of verb semantic class and verb frequency (entrenchment) on children's and adults' graded judgements of argument-structure overgeneralization errors. Cognition. 106(1), 87-129. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Rowland, C. F., & Pine, J. M. (2008). Is Structure Dependence an innate constraint? New experimental evidence from children's complex question production. Cognitive Science, 32(1), 222-255. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., & Goldberg, A., E. (2008). The island status of clausal complements: evidence in favor of an information structure explanation. Cognitive Linguistics, 19(3), 349-381. [pdf]

Ambridge, B. & Pine. J.M. (2006) Testing the Agreement/Tense Omission Model using an Elicited Imitation Paradigm. Journal of Child Language 33(4)879-898. [pdf]

Ambridge, B., Rowland, C. F., Theakston, A. & Tomasello, M. (2006) Comparing Different Accounts of Non-Inversion Errors in Children’s Non-Subject Wh-Questions: ‘What experimental data can tell us?’ Journal of Child Language 30(3) 519-557. [pdf]

Ambridge, B. Theakston, A., Lieven, E.V.M. & Tomasello, M. (2006) The Distributed Learning Effect for Children’s Acquisition of an Abstract Grammatical Construction. Cognitive Development 21, 174–193. [pdf]

Ambridge, B. (2004). Experimental investigations of the formation and restriction of abstract grammatical constructions in young children. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Manchester. [doc]

Gathercole, S.E., Pickering, S.J, Ambridge, B. & Waring, H. (2004) The Structure of Working Memory from 4-15 Years of Age. Developmental Psychology 40(2) 177-190. [pdf]



Ambridge, B., Thomas, E., & Uden, B. (submitted). Good, gooder, goodest (da, daach, daaf): The role of input frequency on overgeneralization errors with Welsh comparative adjectives. [docx]


Book Reviews

Ambridge, B. (2010) Review of Gulzow and N. Gagarina (Eds). Frequency Effects in Language Acquisition: Defining the limits of frequency as an explanatory concept. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Journal of Child Language, 37(2), 453-460. [pdf]

Ambridge, B. (2009) Review of Ninio, A. (2006) Language and the learning curve: A new theory of Syntactic Development: Oxford: Oxford University Press. Infant and Child Development, 18 102-104. [pdf]

Ambridge, B. (2009) Review of Hirsh-Pasek, K. & Golinkoff, R.M (2005) Action meets word: How children learn verbs. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Infant and Child Development, 18 99-101. [pdf]


Handouts and things

Slides for my LOT summer school course on Child Language Acquisition, based partly on my textbook [zip]

A Psychology tutorial based on Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science; predictably called Bad Psychology

Learn the Russian alphabet with this chart

Statistics for the terrified in two pages (between subjects t-test with no SPSS[TM]) [pdf] [xlsx]

Worksheet with datafile: Running a complex within-subjects ANOVA in SPSS[TM] (and reporting it) [zip]

Got SPSS[TM] data that you need to convert into R format? Here's how [Handout by Amy Bidgood]

Ambridge, B. (2014). Over-generalization of grammatical constructions. In. P. Brooks, V. Kempe, & J.G. Golson (Eds.) Encyclopaedia of Language Development [docx]

Ambridge, B. (2014). Grammaticality Judgment Task. In. P. Brooks, V. Kempe, & J.G. Golson (Eds.) Encyclopaedia of Language Development [docx]

Ambridge, B. (in press). Language Development. In Miller, H.L. (Ed.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in Psychology [docx]

Ambridge, B. (in press). Language Acquisition. In Hopkins, B., Geangu E., & S. Linkenauger (Eds) Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development [pdf]