This article argues that children's difficulty with passive constructions is related to properties of the by-phrase. Specifically, we argue that children are in full control of all aspects of the passive construction except for the ability to transmit the external θ-role of the predicate to the by-phrase; we thus reject Borer and Wexler's (1987) claim regarding the maturation of A-chains. Our conclusion is dictated by the results of an experiment we conducted, and supported by data already present in the literature.

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