Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2215-1478
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1486
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Light verb constructions (LVCs), that is, combinations like or , are often claimed to be problematic for non-native speakers of English. In this paper, spoken data from the Trinity Lancaster Corpus are used to explore the use of these constructions across different sections of the corpus, representing different proficiency levels (from lower intermediate to upper advanced) as well as different types of acquisitional contexts, namely English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL). The results of the study reveal a tendency towards an increased frequency of LVCs, as well as more complex and abstract uses, as we move from an intermediate to an advanced level and from an EFL to an ESL context. For the EFL speakers, this development corresponds to a better approximation to native English. For the ESL speakers, on the other hand, LVCs seem to have become ‘constructional teddy bears’, used more often than by the native speakers themselves.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Allerton, D. J.
    2002Stretched Verb Constructions in English. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Altenberg, B. & Granger, S.
    2001 “The grammatical and lexical patterning of MAKE in native and non-native student writing”. Applied Linguistics22(2), 173–194. 10.1093/applin/22.2.173
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/22.2.173 [Google Scholar]
  3. Biber, D. , Gray, B. & Poonpon, K.
    2011 “Should we use characteristics of conversation to measure grammatical complexity in L2 writing development?”. TESOL Quarterly45(1), 5–35. 10.5054/tq.2011.244483
    https://doi.org/10.5054/tq.2011.244483 [Google Scholar]
  4. Brugman, C.
    2001 “Light verbs and polysemy”. Language Sciences23(4–5), 551–578. 10.1016/S0388‑0001(00)00036‑X
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0388-0001(00)00036-X [Google Scholar]
  5. Bulté, B. & Housen, A.
    2012 “Defining and operationalising L2 complexity”. In A. Housen , F. Kuiken & I. Vedder (Eds.), Dimensions of L2 Performance and Proficiency: Complexity, Accuracy and Fluency in SLA. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 21–46. 10.1075/lllt.32.02bul
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.32.02bul [Google Scholar]
  6. 2015 “Evaluating short-term changes in L2 complexity development”. Círculo de Lingüística Aplicada a la Comunicación63, 42–76. 10.5209/rev_CLAC.2015.v63.50169
    https://doi.org/10.5209/rev_CLAC.2015.v63.50169 [Google Scholar]
  7. Butt, M. & Geuder, W.
    2001 “On the (semi)lexical status of light verbs”. In N. Corver & H. van Riemsdijk (Eds.), Semi-lexical Categories: The Function of Content Words and the Content of Function Words. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 323–370. 10.1515/9783110874006.323
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110874006.323 [Google Scholar]
  8. Council of Europe
    Council of Europe 2001The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Crossley, S. A. , Salsbury, T. , McNamara, D. S. & Jarvis, S.
    2011 “What is lexical proficiency? Some answers from computational models of speech data”. TESOL Quarterly45(1), 182–193. 10.5054/tq.2010.244019
    https://doi.org/10.5054/tq.2010.244019 [Google Scholar]
  10. Ellis, R.
    1994The Study of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Field, A. , Miles, J. & Field, Z.
    2012Discovering Statistics Using R. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Gilquin, G.
    2007 “To err is not all. What corpus and elicitation can reveal about the use of collocations by learners”. Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik55(3), 273–291. 10.1515/zaa.2007.55.3.273
    https://doi.org/10.1515/zaa.2007.55.3.273 [Google Scholar]
  13. 2010 “Language production: A window to the mind?”. In H. Götzsche (Ed.), Memory, Mind and Language. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 89–102.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. 2015 “At the interface of contact linguistics and second language acquisition research: New Englishes and Learner Englishes compared”. English World-Wide36(1), 91–124. 10.1075/eww.36.1.05gil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.36.1.05gil [Google Scholar]
  15. 2016 “Discourse markers in L2 English: From classroom to naturalistic input”. In O. Timofeeva , A.-C. Gardner , A. Honkapohja & S. Chevalier (Eds.), New Approaches to English Linguistics: Building Bridges. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 213–249. 10.1075/slcs.177.09gil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.177.09gil [Google Scholar]
  16. Granger, S.
    2008 “Learner corpora”. In A. Lüdeling & M. Kytö (Eds.), Corpus Linguistics: An International Handbook, Vol.1. Berlin: De Gruyter, 259–275.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. 2013 “The passive in learner English. Corpus insights and implications for pedagogical grammar”. In S. Ishikawa (Ed.), Learner Corpus Studies in Asia and the World, Vol. 1: Papers from LCSAW2013. Kobe: School of Languages and Communication, Kobe University, 5–15.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Hasselgren, A.
    1994 “Lexical teddy bears and advanced learners: A study into the ways Norwegian students cope with vocabulary”. Applied Linguistics4(2), 237–260. 10.1111/j.1473‑4192.1994.tb00065.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1473-4192.1994.tb00065.x [Google Scholar]
  19. Hoffmann, S. , Hundt, M. & Mukherjee, J.
    2011 “Indian English – An emerging epicentre? A pilot study on light verbs in web-derived corpora of South Asian Englishes”. Anglia129(3–4), 258–280. 10.1515/angl.2011.083
    https://doi.org/10.1515/angl.2011.083 [Google Scholar]
  20. Juknevičienė, R.
    2008 “Collocations with high-frequency verbs in learner English: Lithuanian learners vs native speakers”. Kalbotyra59(3), 119–127. Available at www.journals.vu.lt/kalbotyra/article/view/7599
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Kilgarriff, A. , Baisa, V. , Bušta, J. , Jakubíček, M. , Kovář, V. , Michelfeit, J. , Rychlý, P. & Suchomel, V.
    2014 “The Sketch Engine: Ten years on”. Lexicography1(1), 7–36. 10.1007/s40607‑014‑0009‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s40607-014-0009-9 [Google Scholar]
  22. Kittigosin, R. & Phoocharoensil, S.
    2015 “Investigation into learning strategies and delexical verb use by Thai EFL learners”. 3L: Language, Linguistics, Literature – The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies21(2), 63–72. 10.17576/3L‑2015‑2102‑05
    https://doi.org/10.17576/3L-2015-2102-05 [Google Scholar]
  23. Langer, S.
    2004 “A linguistic test battery for support verb constructions”. Linguisticae Investigationes27(2), 171–184. 10.1075/li.27.2.03lan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/li.27.2.03lan [Google Scholar]
  24. Larsen-Freeman, D.
    1997 “Chaos/complexity science and second language acquisition”. Applied Linguistics18(2), 141–165. 10.1093/applin/18.2.141
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/18.2.141 [Google Scholar]
  25. Laufer, B. & Waldman, T.
    2011 “Verb-noun collocations in second language writing: A corpus analysis of learners’ English”. Language Learning61(2), 647–672. 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2010.00621.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2010.00621.x [Google Scholar]
  26. Meunier, F.
    2015 “Developmental patterns in learner corpora”. In S. Granger , G. Gilquin & F. Meunier (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Learner Corpus Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 379–400. 10.1017/CBO9781139649414.017
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139649414.017 [Google Scholar]
  27. Mukherjee, J. & Hundt, M.
    (Eds.) 2011Exploring Second-Language Varieties of English and Learner Englishes: Bridging a Paradigm Gap. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/scl.44
    https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.44 [Google Scholar]
  28. Neff-van Aertselaer, J. & Bunce, C.
    2008 “Acquisition of have-constructions in the academic English of Spanish EFL university students: A comparative corpus study”. LAUD PaperNo.718, Universität Duisburg-Essen. Available at www.linse.uni-due.de/laud-paper.html
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Nesselhauf, N.
    2005Collocations in a Learner Corpus. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/scl.14
    https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.14 [Google Scholar]
  30. 2009 “Co-selection phenomena across New Englishes: Parallels (and differences) to foreign learner varieties”. English World-Wide30(1), 1–25. 10.1075/eww.30.1.02nes
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.30.1.02nes [Google Scholar]
  31. Osborne, J.
    2015 “Transfer and learner corpus research”. In S. Granger , G. Gilquin & F. Meunier (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Learner Corpus Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 333–356. 10.1017/CBO9781139649414.015
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139649414.015 [Google Scholar]
  32. Quirk, R. , Greenbaum, S. , Leech, G. & Svartvik, J.
    1985A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Scheepers, R.
    2017 “South African students’ use of delexical multiword units: The trouble with high-frequency verbs”. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics47, 89–114. 10.5774/47‑0‑263
    https://doi.org/10.5774/47-0-263 [Google Scholar]
  34. Shahrokny-Prehn, A. & Höche, S.
    2011 “Rising through the registers – A corpus-based account of the stylistic constraints on Light Verb Constructions”. Corpus10, 239–257. Available at journals.openedition.org/corpus/2110
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Shirato, J. & Stapleton, P.
    2007 “Comparing English vocabulary in a spoken learner corpus with a native speaker corpus: Pedagogical implications arising from an empirical study in Japan”. Language Teaching Research11(4), 393–412. 10.1177/1362168807080960
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168807080960 [Google Scholar]
  36. Sinclair, J.
    (Ed.) 1990Collins Cobuild English Grammar. London: Collins Cobuild.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. 1991Corpus, Concordance, Collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Smith, A.
    2009 “Light verbs in Australian, New Zealand and British English”. In P. Peters , P. Collins & A. Smith (Eds.), Comparative Studies in Australian and New Zealand English: Grammar and Beyond, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 139–155. 10.1075/veaw.g39.09smi
    https://doi.org/10.1075/veaw.g39.09smi [Google Scholar]
  39. Szudarski, P.
    2012 “Effects of meaning- and form-focused instruction on the acquisition of verb-noun collocations in L2 English”. Journal of Second Language Teaching and Research1(2), 3–37.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Szudarski, P. & Carter, R.
    2016 “The role of input flood and input enhancement in EFL learners’ acquisition of collocations”. International Journal of Applied Linguistics26(2), 245–265. 10.1111/ijal.12092
    https://doi.org/10.1111/ijal.12092 [Google Scholar]
  41. Traugott, E. C.
    1999 “A historical overview of complex predicate types”. In L. J. Brinton & M. Akimoto (Eds.), Collocational and Idiomatic Aspects of Composite Predicates in the History of English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 239–260. 10.1075/slcs.47.74clo
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.47.74clo [Google Scholar]
  42. Wang, D.
    2011 “Language transfer and the acquisition of English light verb + noun collocations by Chinese learners”. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics34(2), 107–125.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Wang, Y.
    2016The Idiom Principle and L1 Influence: A Contrastive Learner-corpus Study of Delexical Verb + Noun Collocations. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/scl.77
    https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.77 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): developmental patterns; EFL; ESL; light verb construction; proficiency level; speech
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error