Language choices in L2 English sentence production

Why speakers could have used modal perfect but didn't

Mark A. Conroy, Cupples Linda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study compared production of modal perfect sentences by native English speakers and advanced non-native English speakers from Asian L1 backgrounds in discourse and discourse-free contexts. In experiment 1, native and non-native speakers reconstructed modal perfect sentences from sentential anagrams under time pressure. Both speaker groups were faster to construct modal perfect sentences than closely matched control sentences. In experiment 2, native and non-native speakers read and responded orally to stories designed to elicit modal perfect. The results revealed that non-native speakers produced significantly fewer modal perfect sentences than native speakers. Taken together, the findings suggest that although non-native speakers from Asian L1 backgrounds have the syntactic capability to produce modal perfect under constrained conditions in a sentential anagram task, they are less likely than native speakers to produce such constructions in particular discourse contexts, perhaps as a result of differences in cultural background. Implications for English language instruction are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-406
Number of pages28
JournalIRAL - International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2013

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