The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Edward Sadrai

Second Advisor

James Robinson

Third Advisor

Matthew Barton

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Azerbaijani, definite articles


Researchers agree that article acquisition is one of the most difficult challenges facing learners of English (Chrabaszcz & Jiang, 2014; Lee, Park, & Heinz, 2018; Liu & Gleason, 2002). Research suggests that not all of the various uses of the article are equally difficult for all learners, and that the L1 plays a role in the type of difficulty experienced by learners (Chrabaszcz & Jiang, 2014; Lee et al., 2018; Liu & Gleason, 2002). This thesis proposes a hierarchy of difficulty of written L2 English non-generic definite article usage by L1 Azerbaijani speakers using the four categories of missed obligatory usage presented by Liu and Gleason (2002) (cultural, situation, structural, and textual), along with their four categories of overuse (cultural, structural, general reference, and ungrammatical), building on previous studies of definite article use by speakers of various L1s. I used a shortened version of Liu and Gleason’s (2002) testing instrument consisting of sentences into which participants insert the wherever they deem necessary. Participants were also asked to write a brief narrative, which was analyzed for vocabulary size using Tom Cobb’s Compleat Lexical Tutor, in order to determine their relative proficiency levels. In missed obligatory uses of the non-generic definite article, cultural and structural use presented equal difficulty for learners. In overuse of the, a clearly greater level of difficulty for the cultural category of use was demonstrated. The finding that the cultural use is problematic for learners supports the findings of Liu and Gleason (2002), Wong and Quek (2007), and Dikilitaş and Altay (2011), among others, while the finding that the structural use is also highly difficult for learners differs from the findings of these researchers. Results of this study also indicated that in missed obligatory usage, the situation category of use presented the least difficulty, while in overuse the ungrammatical category presented the least difficulty, supporting the findings of Liu and Gleason (2002).



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