Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Researchers in the field of both first and second language acquisition have been studying the mechanisms underlying the marking of past tense in English, and have identified verb saliency, grammatical aspect, and proficiency level as some of the factors influencing the process. This study tests these factors by comparing 60 Chinese English learners' correct marking of English past tense under various conditions using analysis of variance. I found that Chinese learners of English are more likely to mark irregular verbs and aspectual perfectives than regular verbs and aspectual imperfectives for past tense. However, proficiency level was not found to have any main effect or interaction effect. No three way interaction was found, but results suggest that grammatical aspect may interact with verb saliency in the process of past tense marking. This study confirms both the aspect and the saliency hypotheses, but raises questions about the role that proficiency level of English. as a second language plays in the acquisition of past tense in English.

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