Summary Does the grammatical function of a word determine its probability of retention ? In an attempt to answer this question, we have studied the retention of two nouns belonging either to the NP1 or to the NP2 of an utterance. These nouns have the relation modifier-modified : one is a nuclear noun (subject or object), the other its complement. The results reveal, on the one hand, that retention is better for the modified than for the modifier, and on the other hand that recall of the modifier is strongly related to recall of the modified. While recall of the modifier seems to imply a preliminary recall of the modified, the converse is not true.