The Use of Apology Strategies in English by Pakistani EFL University Students in Pakistan

Tahir Saleem


The speech acts of apology are very important for English language learning and speech acts should be included in the teaching material of English to help learners develop pragmatic competence. Pakistani English language learners lack knowledge of the sociolinguistic rules of speaking English. Successful communication is possible when English as Foreign Language (EFL) learners have pragmatic competence which exhibits the ability to use language forms suitable to socio-cultural context. The use of the speech act of apology of university students of English in Pakistan was investigated in this study based on Holmes’ (1990) and Blum-Kulka’s (1989) apology speech act sets. The results of the study reveal that out of 106 almost all the respondents (105) used “explanation or account” (there was terrible traffic) and (97) used “explicit apology” (sorry). “Expressing self-deficiency” (I forgot; I was confused) and “intensifiers of apology” (I’m very sorry; I’m really sorry) are two other apology strategies which majority of the respondents (76 and 64) also used. Interestingly, none of the respondents reports using “recognizing H as deserving apology” (you are right!) and “acknowledgment of responsibility” (oh, I made a mistake). There is no statistically significant difference in use of apology strategies between male and female respondents. The results of this study might be of pedagogical help and important for teachers, policy makers, curriculum developers, material designers, students, and researchers.

Keywords: sociolinguistic rules of speaking, pragmatic competence, Pakistani EFL learners, pedagogical help, Pakistan.

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