Steve Banfield & Ellie Cavalcanti

What do we mean when we talk about language analysis?
To answer this question let's use the question word technique by using each of the question words to explore our personal understanding of language analysis.
How do you, as a language teacher, respond to these five questions?

What? What does language analysis include?
Why? Why do we do language analysis?
When? When do we do language analysis?
Where? Where do we do language analysis?
How? How do we do language analysis?

The answers to these questions lead into the final section which takes the three areas of FORM, MEANING and USE as the basis of analysis.

What is linked here is one possible model for analysing language.
It is NOT the only one, and you may find others more useful. However, I have found this model extremely useful as it keeps us focused on the practical and the reason why we, as language teachers, are analysing the language in the first place - so we can teach it with more confidence.

There are 7 steps in this analysis. These are:
3. USE - common contexts

Now, click here and let's look at the present perfect together and see if the model is a usable analysis tool for you.

The following exercises all relate to Parrott. Buy it today!
If you find the exercises difficult, or are unsure of your answers, then you can refer to the relevant sections of the book.
Nouns, chapter 1, pps. 7-17;
Adjectives, chapter 2, pps. 18-27;
Adverbs, chapter 3, pps. 28-44;
Articles, chapter 4, pps. 45-54;
Quantifiers, chapter 5, pps.55-67;
Comparatives and Superlatives, chapter 6, pps. 68-82;
Prepositions, chapter 7, pps. 83-92.

a. Nouns (Parrott:7-17)
These sentences all contain at least one student error related to English nouns.
What are the errors?
What is the nature of the difficulty the student is having?
What rules does the student need to learn?

1. The news about Iran are bad.
2. Virus computer are a very big problem.
3. There is a problem with my computer's keyboard.
4. The name of the brother of Jack is John.
5. How many money have you got?
6. I need informations about trains to London this afternoon.
7. I need to buy some furnitures for the flat.
8. My foots hurt after our long walking.
9. I drank three cup of coffee this morning.
10. It is very danger to drive fast in a residential area.

b. Adjectives (Parrott:18-27)
The passage which follows is from a novel. It describes London in the 1930s from the point of view of someone who has just arrived in Britain, in winter, from India.
Read the passage (Parrott:26-27) and then answer the questions:

She hated London - hated it at the very first sight of the foggy streets filled with drab crowds hurrying home, the shop windows glowing feebly in the misty twilight, the huge buses reduced to dim red rumbling shapes that seemed to appear from nowhere out of the smoke and fog. She particularly hated this dingy, dark, ugly room, with its broken-down furniture and the hissing gas fire in the fireplace that went out if you forgot to keep enough shillings to feed into the coin slot. She thought about struggling into a heavy skirt and cardigan and pulling on a pair of thick stockings: she hated the feel of wool against her skin. Her wool gloves, which she disliked even more, were suspended from a wire in front of the pale-blue flames of the gas heater, drying from another hopeless morning of job hunting and giving off an odour which Queenie found loathsome. Everything in England seemed to smell of damp wool, as if the entire population consisted of wet sheep.

a. Identify all the adjectives in this passage.
b. Imagine this passage without adjectives. How much difference would this make to the description? What kind of difference?
c. Which of these adjectives are also participles?
d. Which of these adjectives are derived from nouns?
e. Which of these adjectives are derived from verbs?
f. Which of these adjectives are multiword forms?
g. What does loathsome in the last sentence but one refer to? Account for its position in the sentence.
h. Identify any prefixes or suffixes which are characteristic of adjectives.

c. Adverbs (Parrott:28-44)
Look at the following examples (Parrott:43) and answer the questions:

1. He explains grammar effectively and simply.
2. I'm interested in the quality of the product and not simply how many units we can sell.
3. It went completely over my head
4. I still make mistakes when I'm tired
5. Woody Allen boldly goes into new territory - a Fatal Attraction-style thriller with laughs - to produce an elegantly written , beautifully acted film.

a. Which words are adverbs?
b. What category of adverb (e.g. adverb of degree etc.) do these words belong to?
c. What effect would removing these adverbs from the texts have?

Changing attitudes
a. Do you consider any of the following to be unacceptable?
b. If so, why?

1. Hopefully, it will keep dry for the match.
2. I want to further develop my skill.
3. The gradient descends very steep.
4. I can't walk as quick as her.

d. Articles (Parrott:45-53)
What is the rule for article use in the following examples?
Why is there no article in some examples?

1. I saw a very serious accident this morning.
2. There's a beer in the fridge if you want one.
3. Have you got a bike?
4. He's a professor.
5. Look! That's a lesser spotted redfinch over there!
6. He must be doing 100 miles an hour! Is he mad?

1. I ate a hamburger and fries. The fries were cold.
2. I love the new dress you bought.
3. You must read 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold'
4. We're going to petition the Prime Minister.
5. He's the strongest student in the class.
6. The only thing I have to say is………….

No article
1. I never eat cake.
2. Lions are carnivorous animals.
3. Peter's sister.
4. He's at work.
5. Have you had lunch?
6. She lives in France.

e. Quantifiers (Parrott:54-67)
What differences in meaning, use, effect or connotation are there between the groups of sentences below?

1. Much interest has been shown recently in the means by which governments obtain their statistics.
2. "I've had a lot of interest in the car. I don't think it's going to be difficult to sell it."

3. Few people realize just how much money is spent on the Health Service.
4. A few people actually passed the exam. I was quite surprised.

5. He drinks a lot of whiskey, doesn't he?
6. He drinks so much whiskey, doesn't he?
7. He drinks such a lot of whiskey, doesn't he?
8. He drinks too much whiskey, doesn't he?

9. Would you like some coffee?
10. I'd love some coffee.
11. Is there any coffee left?
12. I don't want any coffee.

f. Comparatives and Superlatives (Parrott:68-82)
Learners' English
What would you tell the learner who made the following mistakes, so that she understood the mistake and could avoid making it again?

1. thinest
2. more bigger
3. happyer
4. more good
5. beautifulest

Language in context
Comparative and superlative forms have been indicated by numbers in the two passages that follow. Study each of these and answer the questions:

Passage 1 (Parrott:91)
"….the bravest (1) and most correct (2), the firmest (3), the most loyal (4) and the most ardent (5) national hero"

a. Is this form a comparative or superlative?
b. Is this form an adjective, adverb or quantifier?
c. Would an alternative form (e.g. bravest - most brave ) be possible?
d. Would this change the meaning in any way?

Passage 2 (Parrott:92)
FAST MUSIC makes you shop faster (6), classical music makes you buy more expensive (7) wine and country music drives you to despair, psychologists said today.
"Certain types of music can influence the degree to which people are open to persuasion," Adrian North of Leicester University told the British Association Annual Science Festival at Birmingham University today. "Music tempo can influence the speed of customers' activity."
After a study that showed that fast music led to shoppers moving around a supermarket more quickly (8) than did slow music, a follow-up showed that fast music caused diners to eat more quickly (9).
Another study showed a similar effect with fast music in a bar- drinking was quicker (10) than it was to slow music. In a cafeteria, diners took more (11) bites per minute than they did to slow music.
Playing classical music and a selection from the Top 40 in a wine cellar revealed that people buy more expensive (12) bottles to classical, while sad music in a stationery shop led to a bigger (13) purchase of greetings cards.
Sad music also led to people being more helpful (14) than did other types.

a. Is this form a comparative or superlative?
b. Is this form an adjective, adverb or quantifier?
c. Would an alternative form (e.g. bravest - most brave ) be possible?
d. Would this change the meaning in any way?

g. Prepositions (Parrott:83-92)
Language in context
The following describes the character and (un)reliability of a workman.
Six prepositions have been removed.

He was a glum, unsociable person (1) a raucous voice and very thick eyebrows, and as a mason he suffered (2) the defect that he could not be depended (3). He would promise to start work (3) a certain day, all the furniture would be moved (5) the far end (6) the house, and then he would not turn up.

a. What words are missing?
b. What information enables you to identify the missing words?
c. What generalizations does this exercise enable you to make about the importance of prepositions?

Differences in word class
In the following sentences some words have been bolded, which can all function as prepositions.
Which is their word class here?

1. He walked off.
2. She ran down the hill.
3. He stepped off the kerb.
4. She used to sing.
5. He made up a story.
6. She's committed to taking part.
7. He looked up the road.
8. She sat on the table.
9. He switched on the radio.
10. She was frightened by the noise.
11. He agreed to an encore.

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