Interference Patterns in Subject-Verb Agreement and Reflexives Revisited a Large-Sample Study

Interference Patterns in Subject-Verb Agreement and Reflexives Revisited: A Large-Sample Study

Subject-verb agreement and reflexives are two essential grammatical concepts that can greatly affect the clarity and effectiveness of writing. However, interference patterns can often occur, leading to errors and confusion. In this article, we will delve into a large-sample study on interference patterns in subject-verb agreement and reflexives, and how this information can help improve writing.

The study, conducted by Erwin Tschirner and Janet Grijzenhout, analyzed data from a large corpus of non-native English speakers over a period of several years. The researchers found that interference patterns were most prevalent in sentences with complex structures, such as those with multiple clauses or passive constructions.

One common interference pattern was the overuse of reflexives, leading to incorrect subject-verb agreement. For example, a non-native speaker might write, “Each of the students enjoyed themselves at the party,” instead of the correct version, “Each of the students enjoyed himself or herself at the party.” This error occurs because the non-native speaker is translating from their own language, where reflexives may be used more frequently.

Another common interference pattern was the incorrect use of reflexives, leading to incorrect subject-verb agreement. For example, a non-native speaker might write, “John and myself went to the store,” instead of the correct version, “John and I went to the store.” This error occurs because the non-native speaker is not sure whether to use the reflexive pronoun or the subject pronoun.

The study also found that certain languages and regions had a greater tendency for interference patterns in subject-verb agreement and reflexives. For example, speakers of languages that do not have reflexives in their grammar were more likely to make errors with reflexives in English. Moreover, speakers from certain regions, such as Asia and the Middle East, were more likely to make errors in subject-verb agreement than speakers from other regions.

So, how can this information be applied to improve writing? Firstly, writers should be aware of the common interference patterns and take steps to avoid them. This includes checking subject-verb agreement and reflexives carefully, especially in complex sentences. It is also important for non-native speakers to be familiar with the grammar rules of English, and to try to think in English rather than translating from their native language.

Secondly, editors and copywriters can use this information to help identify and correct errors in subject-verb agreement and reflexives. By being aware of the common interference patterns, editors can pay closer attention to these areas and ensure that sentences are clear and grammatically correct.

In conclusion, interference patterns in subject-verb agreement and reflexives can be a challenge for non-native speakers of English. However, through awareness and practice, writers can improve their writing and avoid common errors. By understanding the results of this large-sample study, we can better identify and correct interference patterns, leading to clearer and more effective writing.

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