The paper aims to reveal the thinking processes and identify comprehension patterns of three groups of Cantonese learners of English who were secondary students while they were working on a multiple-choice speech act comprehension exercise. The elicited verbal protocols provide significant information for interlanguage pragmatic comprehension and development from the learners.A multiple-choice pragmatic comprehension exercise which consisted of five English direct and indirect speech acts (requests, apologies, refusals, compliments and complaints) in contextualized dialogues was conducted to 156 Cantonese learners of English. They were studying from F2 to F6 of about ages 14 to 18 in three Hong Kong secondary schools during the research period. The comprehension exercise scores showed that the interlanguage pragmatic competence of the three groups of secondary students progressed steadily. The students� verbal protocols exhibited that they were less reliant on literal meaning in interpretation of meaning, and adopted more varied and complex processing strategies from F2 to F6 gradually. The variety and complexity of comprehension strategies and patterns illustrate the characteristic features of the formal representation stage in Bialystok�s cognitive processing model.