A Corpus-Based Analysis of N-Grams in English Texts Written by Chinese Learners

Zhiyuan LIN


Recent linguistic studies have shown that proper use of multi-word expressions, or n-grams, is quite essential in foreign language acquisition. By contrast of the different types of n-grams from native corpus and Chinese learners’ corpus, the present article is devoted to discussing distinctive features of n-grams use in English texts written by Chinese learners. Generally, Chinese learners have not developed a strong awareness of distinguishing written style from spoken style of English texts. Also they tend to produce various n-grams which reflect the Chinese social development. Besides, they usually overuse n-grams of “a personal pronoun + a modal or mental verb” to stress human subjective ideas, attitudes or feelings toward the objective world. In addition, they can not output n-grams about quantity in a native-like way. The article also explores the causes of those peculiar features above mentioned from linguistic, social, cultural and cognitive perspectives. The study may not only helps readers get a better understanding about the n-gram features involved in Chinese learners’ English texts, but also brings some practical implications to EFL teaching.


Chinese learners; Written English; N-Grams; EFL teaching

Full Text:



Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). The Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Carter, R. A., & McCarthy, M. J. (2006). Cambridge grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cortes, V. (2002). Lexical Bundles in freshman composition. In D. Biber, S. Fitzmaurice, & R. Reppen (Eds.), Using corpora to explore linguistic variation (pp.131-45). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Hyland, K. (2008). As can be seen: Lexical bundles and disciplinary variation. English for Specific Purposes, 27(1), 4-21.

Lian, S. N. (2010). A coursebook on English-Chinese translation. Beijing: Higher Education Press.

Liang, M. C., Li, W. Z., & Xu, J. J. (2010). Using Corpora: A practical coursebook. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

O’Keeffe, A., McCarthy, M. J., & Carter, R. A. (2007). From corpus to classroom: Language use and language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Scott, M., & Tribble, C. (2006). Textual patterns: Key words and corpus analysis in language education. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Wei, N. X. (2011). Fundamentals of lexis. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Wen, Q. F., Wang, L. F., & Liang, M. C. (2009). Spoken and written English corpus of Chinese Learners. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/7885


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 Studies in Literature and Language

Share us to:   


Online Submissionhttp://cscanada.org/index.php/sll/submission/wizard


How to do online submission to another Journal?

If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.

We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases: caooc@hotmail.com; sll@cscanada.net; sll@cscanada.org

 Articles published in Studies in Literature and Language are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://www.cscanada.net; Http://www.cscanada.org 
E-mailoffice@cscanada.net; office@cscanada.org; caooc@hotmail.com

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture