An Analysis of Prepositional Errors in English Writing Made by Chinese EFL Students

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Wan Jiamin
Somlak Liangprayoon
Sudarat Payaprom


This study was aimed to investigate the prepositional errors in writing of Chinese students. It also aimed to explore the causes of prepositional errors in students’ essays. The participants in study were 37 third-year Chinese students majoring in English Studies. The participants were selected using purposive sampling. The research instruments of the study were a narrative writing test, descriptive writing test, and argumentative writing test. After finishing the identification, the prepositional errors of the participants were analyzed and classified based on the Surface Structure Taxonomy by Dulay, Burt and Krashen (1982 : 154-162) including: omission, addition, misformation and misordering.

The research findings revealed that

1. There were a total of 207 prepositional errors based on surface strategy taxonomy. The frequency of misformation was the highest which accounts for 49.27%, followed by omission which accounts for 32.37%, addition errors 17.39%, and the lowest percentage was misordering (0.96%).

2. Prepositional errors in description were the highest (up to 35%), and the prepositional errors in narration and argumentation rank second (70 errors; 34%) and third (65 errors; 31%) respectively. Besides, the percentage of misformation in narration (36 errors; 17.39%) was highest, while the lowest occurrence was the frequency of misordering in narrative and descriptive (1 error; 0.48%).

3. The causes of prepositional errors were found to be interlingual interference, intralingual interference, and insufficient input of the target language.


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