A corpus-based analysis of English synonyms : acquire and obtain

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Sita Sittironnarit
Kongkiat Khunasathitchai
Krishna Kosashunhanan
Soranut Kumdee


           Due to their similar meaning, L2 English language learners may struggle with the use of near synonyms. Corpus-based studies on English synonyms have been conducted over the last two decades to solve this issue. To the best of the researchers' knowledge, the distinction between the synonymous verbs acquire and obtain has not yet been examined. This study, thus, examines these two verbs in terms of genres and collocations using the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). The findings indicate that they appear to have a high degree of formality and are prevalent in written rather than spoken genres. In general, obtain is more common than acquire. In terms of collocation, they may be distinguished by their specific noun collocates. Even though they share some noun collocates, they cannot be used interchangeably in all situations. Semantic preference and semantic prosody and pedagogical implications are also discussed.


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