An Analysis of Preposition (Idiomatic Phrases, Prepositional Phrases and Zero Prepositions) Detection Errors in the Writing of Graduate ESL Learners of Pakistan

Sumaira Akhtar


In this paper we describe a methodology for detecting preposition errors in the writing of ESL graduate learners. To investigate the nature of errors in the writing skill problems of graduate learners, two fifty graduate male and female learners randomly selected from four colleges and one university were asked to complete two writing skill tasks: Fifth word deletion and open composition test. The study is related to the research question: Why ESL graduate learners commit errors in their writing skills? (a) Prepositions, phrasal verbs and idiomatic phrases. It is detected that preposition overuse and preposition omission are the common problems for ESL. Besides, students deem prepositions quite tricky to use in their writing. So the findings show the wrong use of prepositions specifically ‘with, in, of’ and unnecessary insertion of prepositions. It is observed that errors are because of the interference of L1 in L2.  Besides, the final results of the two tests showed that Prepositions (prepositional verbs, prepositional phrases, phrasal verbs, zero prepositions) are quite problematic for ESL learners. The learners try to put prepositions on the same patterns of L1 which ultimately leads them towards errors.

Keywords: Prepositions, idiomatic phrases, prepositional phrases, zero prepositions and interference of L1 in L2

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