Publication Date



College of Arts and Sciences


TESL--Teacher Certification


second language acquisition, first language acquisition, order of acquisition, morpheme order studies, natural order, morphology


Applied Linguistics | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | First and Second Language Acquisition | Latin American Languages and Societies | Modern Languages | Morphology | Spanish Linguistics


This paper examines the order of acquisition for grammatical morphemes in Spanish and English first and second language learners. Brown’s first morpheme order study, conducted in 1973, laid the foundation for what would become one of the most common types of study conducted within the field of second language acquisition. The four orders of acquisition relevant here are examined and compared in order to support the roles of salience, morphophonological regularity, complexity, input frequency, and native language transfer in first and/or second language acquisition. The conclusion is that these five determinants work interdependently in determining the difficulty of acquiring a particular morpheme in second language acquisition, and the same factors, except native language transfer, work together in first language acquisition as well, to varying degrees.