Definition of complementary distribution in English:

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complementary distribution

Pronunciation: /ˌkämpləˌmen(t)ərē ˌdistrəˈbyo͞oSHən/ /ˌkämpləˌmentrē ˌdistrəˈbyo͞oSHən/

noun

Linguistics
The occurrence of speech sounds in mutually exclusive contexts.
Example sentences
  • Next, given the standard formulation of binding conditions A and B, it is predicted that anaphors and pronominals be in strict complementary distribution, that is, anaphors can occur only where pronominals cannot, and vice versa.
  • These two sounds do not occur in the same environment; they are in complementary distribution.
  • These lexical pairs tend to be in complementary distribution.
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