Acquisition of irregular verb forms in L2 French : does the L1 of the learners explain the difference ?

Cyrille Granget, Marie-Eve Michot, Malin Ågren, Sonia Gerolimich, Isabelle Stabarin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This study explores L1 effects on the production of subject-verb agreement in number (singular vs. plural) in L2 French. L1 influence has rarely been explored in detail in this context, especially compared to other factors such as input frequency of specific verb forms, singular vs plural entities and different types of verbs. In this study, we analyse the use of verbs with an audible distinction between singular and plural in a corpus of 45 narratives produced in L2 French by learners with German, Italian and Swedish as their L1. These three languages display major differences in subject-verb agreement and we therefore hypothesize that it will be easier for learners who express subject-verb agreement in their L1 (Germans and Italians) to produce this agreement in L2 French, compared to learners without subject-verb agreement in their L1 (Swedes). A linear regression analysis confirms an effect of the context (agreement is more correct in singular than in plural contexts) and of the type of verb (agreement is more difficult in verbs with a plural based on a word-final consonant in coda position (e.g. boire ‘to drink’) compared to verbs with a plural in /ɔ̃/ (e.g. être ‘to be’) and in verbs with stem alternation in plural (e.g. prendre ‘to take’). However, contrary to predictions, the L1 of the learners did not seem to influence their production of singular and plural verb forms in L2 French. Even though German and Italian clearly express subject-verb agreement in number on the verb, German and Italian learners do not have an advantage over Swedish learners when producing subject-verb agreement in number in L2 French. 
Translated title of the contributionAcquisition of irregular verb forms in L2 French : does the L1 of the learners explain the difference ?
Original languageFrench
Title of host publicationRéflexions sur les usages et les utilisateurs du français : aspects acquisitionnels et didactiques
EditorsInès Saddour, Cecilia Gunnarsson-Largy
PublisherPeter Lang 
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-8076-1067-5
ISBN (Print) 978-2-8076-1066-8
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Publication series

ISSN (Print)2030-2363


  • French as a second/foreign language
  • transfer
  • cross-linguistic influence
  • verb morphology
  • subject-verb agreement


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