Patterns and Causes of Deviations in English Verbal Inflectional Suffixes among Thai ELF Learners

Napasri Timyam


This study investigates the use of three verbal inflectional suffixes, i.e., the present tense -s, the past tense -ed, and the progressive -ing, among Thai ELF learners. It examines how they deviate from ENL norms and the causes of deviations are analysed. Data were taken from the academic writing of 116 English-major students at a university in Bangkok. The results showed that Thai ELF learners who have advanced and upper-intermediate level English knowledge and skills have acquired the ability to use these three suffixes, but they sometimes deviate from ENL norms. They tend to omit the -s ending when there is a long distance between the main subject and main verb, when there is a heavy subject containing a head and pre-/post-modifiers, and when the subject appears as a structurally complex category. They often omit the -ed ending when there are several past tense verbs in a sentence. They extend the use of the progressive aspect to talk about a general truth or habit which is typically expressed by the present simple tense in ENL. Results suggest that linguistic and functional causes are responsible for these deviations. Thai ELF learners use the zero forms of present and past tense verbs as a result of both syntactic complexity and the pragmatic motives of the efficiency of communication as well as the exploitation of redundancy. They use progressive verbs with general truths or habits due to the attractive form and meaning of this aspect and also the pragmatic motive of added prominence.  


Keywords: Thai ELF learners; deviations; the present tense -s; the past tense -ed; the progressive -ing  

Full Text:



Aarts, B. (2011). Oxford Modern English Grammar. New York: Oxford University Press.

Baker, W. (2012). English as a lingua franca in Thailand: Characterisations and implications. Englishes in Practice. Vol. 1, 18-27.

Bolton, K. (2008). English in Asia, Asian Englishes, and the issue of proficiency. English Today. Vol. 24(2), 3-12.

Cogo, A. (2010). Strategic use and perceptions of English as a lingua franca. Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics. Vol. 46(3), 295-312.

Cogo, A. & Dewey, M. (2006). Efficiency in ELF communication: From pragmatic motives to lexico-grammatical innovation. Nordic Journal of English Studies. Vol. 5(2), 59-93.

Depraetere, I. & Langford, C. (2012). Advanced English Grammar: A Linguistic Approach. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Dewey, M. (2007). English as a lingua franca and globalisation: An interconnected perspective. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. Vol. 17(3), 332-354.

Dewey, M. (2014). Pedagogic criticality and English as a lingua franca. Journal of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies. Vol. 36(2), 11-30.

Downing, A. & Locke, P. (2006). English Grammar: A University Course (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Firth, A. (1996). The discursive accomplishment of normality: On “lingua franca” English and conversation analysis. Journal of Pragmatics. Vol. 26(2), 237-259.

Foley, J. A. (2005). English in…Thailand. RELC Journal. Vol. 36(2), 223-234.

Greetham, B. (2001). How to Write Better Essays. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Hamp-Lyons, L. & Heasley, B. (2006). Study Writing: A Course in Written English for Academic Purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Held, D., McGrew, A., Goldblatt, D. & Perraton, J. (1999). Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Huddleston, R. & Pullum, G. K. (2005). A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hülmbauer, C., Böhringer, H. & Seidlhofer, B. (2008). Introducing English as a lingua franca (ELF): Precursor and partner in intercultural communication. Synergies Europe. Vol. 3, 25-36.

Jenkins, J. (2006). Points of view and blind spots: ELF and SLA. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. Vol. 16(2), 137-162.

Jenkins, J. (2009). English as a lingua franca: Interpretations and attitudes. World Englishes. Vol. 28(2), 200-207.

Jenkins, J. (2012). English as a lingua franca from the classroom to the classroom. ELT Journal. Vol. 66(4), 486-494.

Jenkins, J., Cogo, A. & Dewey, M. (2011). State-of-the-art article: Review of developments in research into English as a lingua franca. Language Teaching. Vol. 44(3), 281-315.

Mair, C. & Hundt, M. (1995). Why is the progressive becoming more frequent in English? Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik. Vol. 43(2), 111-122.

National Identity Board. (2000). Thailand into the 2000s. Bangkok: Office of the Prime Minister.

O’Grady, W. (2001). The Syntax Files. Honolulu: University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Ranta, E. (2006). The “attractive” progressive – Why use the -ing form in English as a lingua franca? Nordic Journal of English Studies. Vol. 5(2), 95-116.

Seidlhofer, B. (2005). Key concepts in ELT: English as a lingua franca. ELT Journal. Vol. 59(4), 339-341.

Seidlhofer, B. (2008). Language variation and change: The case of English as a lingua franca. In K. Dziubalska-Kołaczyk & J. Przedlacka (Eds.), English Pronunciation Models: A Changing Scene (pp. 59-75). Bern: Peter Lang.

Stapa, S. H. & Izahar, M. M. (2010). Analysis of errors in subject-verb agreement among Malaysian ESL learners. 3L: The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies. Vol. 16(1), 1-18.



  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2247

ISSN : 0128-5157