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Using error analysis can be an effective tool by ESL teachers for discovering individual student’s difficulties with the English language. Controversies exist, however, over which of these errors should be used for focused instruction. In this study, a detailed inspection of grammatical errors was done with a sample essay written by an anonymous college-level ESL student. The results of the analysis found that out of the eight parts of speech, verbs were the most prevalent errors within this essay. In particular, four grammatical verb errors were noted. The first error included subject-verb agreement when an auxiliary verb was used. The second error showed confusion between tense verbs that are bound by time frames compared to infinitive forms - which are not bound by these frames. Third, there were misunderstandings between the correct usage of gerunds and the infinitive forms of non-finite model verbs. Finally, the student showed a lack of use of model verbs to correctly express mood in an opinion essay. It was therefore determined that this student, as well as other ESL students, could benefit from specific instruction on English verb peculiarities through the use of mini-lessons within a student’s own work.

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. Ettien Koffi



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