Understanding Syntactic and Semantic Errors in the Composition Writing of Jordanian EFL Learners

Yazan Shaker Almahameed, May Al-Shaikhli


The current study aimed at investigating the salient syntactic and semantic errors made by Jordanian English foreign language learners as writing in English. Writing poses a great challenge for both native and non-native speakers of English, since writing involves employing most language sub-systems such as grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation. A total of 30 Jordanian English foreign language learners participated in the study. The participants were instructed to write a composition of no more than one hundred and fifty words on a selected topic. Essays were collected and analyzed statistically to obtain the needed results. The results of the study displayed that syntactic errors produced by the participants were varied, in that eleven types of syntactic errors were committed as follows; verb-tense, agreement, auxiliary, conjunctions, word order, resumptive pronouns, null-subject, double-subject, superlative, comparative and possessive pronouns. Amongst syntactic errors, verb tense errors were the most frequent with 33%. The results additionally revealed that two types of semantic errors were made; errors at sentence level and errors at word level. Errors at word level outstripped by far errors at sentence level, scoring respectively 82% and 18%. It can be concluded that the syntactic and semantic knowledge of Jordanian learners of English is still insufficient.


EFL learners, Syntactic errors, Semantic errors. Conjunctions, resumptive pronouns

Full Text:



Abdul-Fattah, H. and El-Hassan, S. (1993). Syntactic Errors of Jordanian School-Children in English: The Role of the Native Language. Yarmouk University. Jordan.

Alhassan, A. (2013). The Effects of Arabic on English Writing of Petra University Students. Journal of Modern Education Review, 3(3).

Al-Khasawneh, F. (2014). Error Analysis of Written English Paragraphs by Jordanian Undergraduate Students: A Case Study. The International Journal of English Language, Literature and Humanities, 2(4).

AL-Khataybeh, M. (1992). An analysis of syntactic errors in the composition of Jordanian tenth grade students. Unpublished M.A. thesis. Yarmouk University-Jordan.

Alkhresheh, M. (2010). "Interlingual interference in the English Language Word Order Structure of Jordanian EFL Learners". European Journal of Social Science, 16(1), 105-116.

Allan, K. (2009). Concise Encyclopedia of Semantics.UK. Elsevier

Al-Shormani, M and Al-Sohbani1, Y. (2012). Semantic Errors Committed by Yamani University Learners: Classifications and Sources. International Journal of English Linguistics, 2(6).

Corder, S.P. (1967). The significance of Learners Errors. Interactional Review of Applied Linguistics, 9, 161-170.

Ellis, R. (1985). Understanding Second Language acquisition. New York. Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (1994). The Study of Second Language Acquisition. New York. Oxford University Press.

Harris, G. J., and Cunningham, H. D. (1994). The Simon and Schuster guide to writing. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs.

Hayes, J. R., Flower, L., Schriver, K., Stratman, J., & Carey, L. (1987). Advances in applied psycholinguistics. Vol. 2. Reading, writing and language processing S. Rosenberg, Ed. Cambridge, England.

Hourani, T. (2008). An Analysis of the Common Grammatical Errors in the English Writing made by 3rd Secondary Male Students in the Eastern Coast of the UAE. M.A Thesis. British University in Dubai.

Huy, N. (2015). Problems affecting Learning Writing Skill of Grade 11 at Thong Linch High School. Asian Journal of Educational Research, 3(2).

Liatch, M. (2011). Lexical Errors and Accuracy in Second Language Writing. UK. MPG Books Group.

Rababah, G. (2001). An investigation into the strategic Competence of Arab Learners of English at Jordanian Universities. PhD Dissertation University of Newcastle uponTyne.UK.

Rababah, G. (2003). "Communication Problems Facing Arab Learners of English: A personal Perspective ". TEFL Web Journal, 2(1), 15-27.

Riazi. M. (2016). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Research Methods in Applied Linguistics: Quantitative, Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research. New York, Routledge Tylor & Francis Group.

Tahaineh. Y (2010). Arab EFL University Students' Errors in the Use of Prepositions. MJAL2:1JANUAR. ISSN 0974-8741.

Valin, R. (2001). An Introduction to Syntax. UK. Cambridge University Press.

White, R., and Arndt, V. (1991). Process writing. London, UK: Longman.

Zughoul, M.R.(1991). Error in lexical choice: towards writing problematic World Lists. IRAL, 29(1), 45-60.

Zughoul, M.R.& Hussein, A. (2003).Translational collocation strategies of Arab learners of English: a study in lexical semantics. Babel, 49(1), 59-81.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.6n.6p.158


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.