Towards a New Pedagogical Approach to Some and Any Based on Large-Scale Corpus Analysis

  • Christopher Michael Turner

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis lays the foundations for a new pedagogical approach to some and any, an area of language that poses substantial difficulties for learners. It describes research with the Oxford English Corpus and the Cambridge Learner Corpus which provides the basis for a provisional new pedagogical
    description of this complex language area.
    The research with the Oxford English Corpus reveals that the descriptions provided in grammar books are unsatisfactory, as they give a distorted account of the some-any distinction in negative clauses and after implicit negatives, pay scant attention to the use of any in affirmative clauses and provide insufficient information on the pragmatic and semantic factors governing the choice between some and any in interrogative and conditional clauses. The research with the Cambridge Learner Corpus reveals that learners of all levels and many L1 backgrounds have difficulty with all the main uses of some and any that are poorly explained in grammar books, particularly those involving negative and
    conditional clauses and the use of any in affirmative clauses. Data from the learner corpus is interpreted in the light of the findings from the reference corpus in order to identify possible causes of learner errors with some and any.
    The thesis then explains the changes to the pedagogical grammar descriptions of some and any which will need to be introduced as a result of the corpus research, accounts for decisions regarding which aspects of some and any to explain at different proficiency levels and presents a rationale, illustrated
    by sample explanations, of how to explain new or modified aspects of the description. It then provides a brief discussion of other aspects of the new pedagogical approach such as which methodologies are appropriate for teaching some and any and how to train teachers in this area of language.
    The final chapter examines the need for further research into some and any and discusses the possibility of using the research methods employed in this study to improve the description of other complex areas of language. The main conclusion from this study is that there is no place in language teaching for fundamentally incomplete or inaccurate descriptions of the kind often provided for some and any.
    Date of AwardNov 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorHilary Nesi (Supervisor), Sheena Gardner (Supervisor) & Ross Graham (Supervisor)

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