PAST TENSE IN WRITTEN EXPRESSIONS OF ADVANCED ESL STUDENTS

Ambrose Ochigbo Adaje

Abstract


The Simple Past Tense, a one-word verbal category has situational, anaphoric, cataphoric, event, state, habitual, attitudinal, hypothetical and backshift uses in communication. Using the structural grammar as a descriptive model, the study investigates the forms and imports of the Simple Past Tense in the written productions of some first-year students of University of Agriculture, Makurdi. The study is prompted by the paucity of such research on the students’ written works which are not devoid of grammatical problems. Two hundred and eighty-six subjects, drawn from the study population, were given a test, made up of both objective test and essay task, at the close of the 2012/13 academic when they had had a two-semester use of English course termed Communication in English. The analysis of the data shows that the students are weak in the use of the Simple Past Tense in communication. For example, the Past Tense is used in wrong sentential contexts; the to-infinitive is inflected to indicate past time; present verb forms are used to articulate past events and states; there are numerous wrong inflections of irregular verbs such as cutted, shaked, clinged, etc. To improve the students’ weak base in English grammar, Nigerian English language teachers should guide students to learn the forms, meanings and functions of past verb forms in communication; also, English language experts should develop self-study books on structural elements which have been established by research to be problematic to second language learners so to improve learners’ communicative competence.

 

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past tense, usage, Nigerian ESL students

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References


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