Readers and listeners use linguistic structure in comprehending sentences and texts. We review research, mostly published in the past five years, that addresses the question of how they use it. We consider effects of syntactic, lexical, prosodic, morphological, semantic, and discourse structure, as well as reviewing research on how discourse context and frequency of experience, the contents of long-term memory, and the mental models being constructed by a reader or listener affect sentence and text comprehension. We point out areas of theoretical debate including depth-first versus breadth-first models of parsing and memory-based versus constructionist models of discourse comprehension, attempt to show how the empirical effects we review bear on such theoretical questions, and discuss how new lines of research, including research on languages other than English, may enrich the discussion of these questions.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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