Error analysis in complex sentences written by Indonesian students from the English education department

Adaninggar Septi Subekti


This study was aimed to analyse errors made by learners in writing four types of complex sentences; complex sentences with adjective clauses, noun clauses, adverb clauses, and multiple-clause structures in an Essay Writing class. This study was done based on the realisation that learners’ grammatical knowledge is not always translated into accurate language production in real writing contexts and as a continuation of a previous study with the same participants which found that learners’ mastery of complex sentence structure affected their L2 writing achievements. Through document analysis of 40 essays, by these learners, using Thematic Analysis, the present study found five major themes of errors. They were lack of tense consistency, errors of omission, which included omission of verbs, omission of subjects and verbs, and omission of subjects, errors of addition, incorrect verb formations (double finite verbs), and the combination of several errors. Using Error Analysis as a framework, some possible contributing factors were further examined. Based on the findings, pedagogical implications and limitations, along with suggested directions for future research were also presented.


complex sentences; adjective clauses; noun clauses; adverb clauses; multiple-clause structure; error analysis

Full Text:



Andersen, S. (2014). Sentence types and functions. Retrieved 23 February 2018 from

Aronson, J. (1995). A pragmatic view of thematic analysis. The Qualitative Report, 2(1), 1–3.

Ary, D., Jacobs, L. C., & Razavieh, A. (2002). Introduction to research in education (6th ed.). Belmonth, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Azar, B. (1999). Understanding and using English grammar. New York: Pearson Education.

Basit, T. N. (2010). Conducting research in educational contexts. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

Brown, H. D. (2000). Principals of language learning and teaching (4th ed). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bumela, L. (2003). Responding and analysing: Stages of teaching functional grammar in Indonesian context. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4(1), 70–86.

Chalker, S. (1984). Current English grammar. London: MacMillan.

Chen, H. C. (1998). A contrastive analysis of the language errors made by the Chinese students of English as a second/foreign language. Journal of Wu-Feng Applied Linguistic, 6, 224–237.

Chen, L. L. (2006). The effect of the use of L1 in a multimedia tutorial on grammar learning: An error analysis of Taiwanese beginning EFL learners’ English essays. Asian EFL Journal, 8(2), 76–110.

Corder, S. P. (1967). The significance of learners’ errors. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 5, 161–169.

Dulay, H., Burt, M., & Krashen, S. (1982). Language two. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (1994). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gass, S. M., & Selinker, L. (2008). Second language acquisition: An introductory course (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Gray, D. E. (2014). Doing research in the real world (3rd ed.). London: Sage.

Halliday, M. A. K. (2002). On grammar. London: Peking University Press.

Han, Z. (2002). A Study of the impact of recasts on tense consistency in L2 Output. TESOL Quarterly, 36(4), 543–572.

Harmer, J. (2002). The practice of English language teaching. London: Longman.

Hartfield, V. F., Jacobs, H. L., Zinkgraf, S. A., Wormuth, D. R., & Hughey, J. B. (1985). Learning ESL composition. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Haussamen, B., Benjamin, A., Kolln, M., & Wheeler, R. S. (2003). Grammar alive! A guide for teachers. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

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

Kothari, C. R. (2014). Research methodology: Methods and techniques. New Delhi: New Age International.

Lim, J. M. H. (2006). Associating interference with strategy instruction: An investigation into the learning of the present continuous. Asian EFL Journal, 8(2), 55–75.

Littlewood, W. (2002). Foreign and second language learning: Language acquisition research and its implications for the classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Luk, J. C. M., & Lin, A. M. Y. (2006). Uncovering the sociopolitical situatedness of accents in the World Englishes paradigm. In R. Hughes (Ed.), Spoken English, TESOL and applied linguistics: Challenges for theory and practice (3-22). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mitchell, R., Myles, F., & Marsden, E. (2013). Second language learning theories (3rd ed). London: Routledge.

Muhsin, M. A. (2016). Analysing the students errors in using simple present (A case study at Junior High School in Makassar). Pacific Science Review A: Natural Science and Engineering, 2(3), 81–87.

Myles, J. (2002). Second language writing and research: the writing process and error analysis in student texts. The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language, 6(2). Retrieved from

Norrish, J. (1987). Language learning and their Errors. London: MacMillan Publishers Ltd.

Oliver, P. (2003). The student’s guide to research ethics. New York: Open University Press.

Pandey, P., & Pandey, M. M. (2015). Research methodology: Tools and techniques. Buzau, Romania: Bridge Center.

Phillips, D. (2004). Longman: Introductory course for the TOEFL test. New York: Pearson Education, Inc.

Quirk, R., & Greenbaum, S. (1985). A university grammar of English. Harlow, Essex: Longman Group Limited.

Richards, J. C. (1973). Error analysis. London: Longman.

Sarfraz, S. (2011). Error analysis of the written English essays of Pakistani undergraduate students : A case study. Asian Transactions on Basic & Applied Sciences, 1(3), 29–51.

Schachter, J. (1996). Learning and triggering in adult L2 acquisition. In G. Brown, K. Malmkjaer & J. Williams (eds.), Performance and competence in Second Language Acquisition (pp. 70-88). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schuster, E. H. (2006). A fresh look at sentence fragments. English Journal, 95(5), 78–83.

Subekti, A. S. (2018). L2 writing proficiency and mastery of complex sentence : A study of Indonesian English education major university students. IJEFL (Indonesian Journal of EFL and Linguistics), 3(1), 19–32.

Sukasame, N., Kantho, S., & Narrot, P. (2014). A study of errors in learning english grammatical structures on tenses of Matthayomsuksa 4 students of the demonstration school, Khonkaen University. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 1934–1939.

Thomas, G. (2013). How to do your research project: A guide for students in education and applied social sciences. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Werner, P. K., & Nelson, J. P. (2007). Mosaic 2 grammar (Silver). Singapore: McGraw-Hil.

Wu, H., & Garza, E. V. (2014). Types and attributes of English writing errors in the EFL context - A study of error analysis. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 5(6), 1256–1262.

Zafar, A. (2016). Error analysis: a tool to improve English skills of undergraduate students. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 217, 697–705.

Zheng, C., & Park, T. J. (2013). An analysis of errors in English writing made by Chinese and Korean university students. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(8), 1342–1351.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Print ISSN: 2355-2794, Online ISSN: 2461-0275

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.