Frequency and Complexity of Relative Clauses in Vietnamese Learners’ Essays


Relative clauses are considered as complex structures and employed in academic writing to a high extent. The frequency and complexity of these structures is expected to make non-native learners’ writing more academic. Therefore, the paper aims to investigate how Vietnamese learners of English use relative clauses in their essays. Particularly, 100 argumentative essays written by intermediate students are examined to explore the frequency and complexity of these structures. The findings show that the presence of relative clauses is found in nearly all essays. However, the investigated students tend to use many more restrictive relative clauses than non- restrictive ones. Regarding syntactic complexity, they have a preference order of SU>DO>OBL>GEN>IO=OCOMP. It is suggested that non-native learners should acquire the use of all types of relative clauses for them to be appropriately employed in their academic writing.

Keywords: relative clauses, academic essays, non-native users, the NPAH

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