Investigating the use of article-adjective-noun constructions in EFL writing

Yingying Liu, Kevin McManus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recent second language acquisition research has demonstrated that language learning is in essence the learning of constructions, or form-meaning pairings. Compared to first language acquisition research, however, our understanding of how constructions in a second language (L2) emerge and develop with proficiency and/or experience is limited. Furthermore, within this developing evidence base of L2 research, investigations have predominantly focused on verb-based constructions (e.g., verb-argument constructions), understood to be a core construction category of sentences. As a result, a large part of L2 speakers’ construction inventories remains to be investigated. To address this gap, a corpus-based investigation of the “article + adjective + noun” (AAN) construction in a written corpus of Chinese-speaking learners of English was carried out. Analyses show growth in construction types and developmental changes of adjectives in AANs with increasing amounts of L2 experience, consistent with usage-based understandings of language. Theoretical and pedagogical implications are discussed, including the extent to which previous findings for verb-based constructions apply to AAN constructions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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