A Study of Grammatical and Lexical Errors in Descriptive Writing of First Year Arts Students at Silpakorn University

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Siwaporn Suvarnamani


This study investigated grammatical and lexical errors, particularly tense, fragment, and collocation errors, found in the descriptive writing of first year Arts students at Silpakorn University. The study examined the errors found in 180 final exam papers of the first semester for the academic year 2015. Tense errors were identified and classified into 13 types. However, the two most common error types found were the use of Past Simple instead of Present Simple (50.75%) and the use of Present Simple instead of Past Simple (22.39%). Based on the data set, there were 32 instances of fragment errors. From those, omission of the verb was the most common type (16 instances, 50.00%), and all of these were the omission of one particular verb, namely “to be”. This was followed closely by dependent-word fragments (13 instances, 40.63%). Finally, for collocations, a total of 65 occurrences of collocation errors were found in the paragraphs of 51 students. In those 65 occurrences, the use of wrong prepositions was the most common type of error with 34 occurrences (52.30%). The second most common type was the omission of the proper preposition with 18 occurrences (27.69%). Based on interviews to find the reasons behind these errors, it was found that wrong pronunciation, lack of consistency and paying too much attention to content were main causes of the tense errors. In addition, first language (L1) interference was the main cause of the fragment errors and collocation errors were resulted from the overuse of a direct translation method.


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