Turkish ELT students' acquisition of the definite article: An analysis of four non-generic uses

Yildirim F. B.

Proceedings of the 1st GlobELT Conference on Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language, Antalya, Turkey, 16 - 19 April 2015, vol.199, pp.748-755 identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 199
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.07.607
  • City: Antalya
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.748-755
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


The article system of English language is a linguistic form that is taken for granted by the native speakers of this language; however when it comes to the acquisition of it by non-native speakers, it turns out to be too complex to understand. This could stem from the differences between the mother tongue of the learners and the target langauge. Turkish context is an example for such cases since it consists of learners whose mother tongue does not include an article system and among the articles especially the definite one 'the' is problematic for Turkish learners of English because Turkish language has no definite article. Henceforth, this study aims to investigate the acquisition of the definite article in English by Turkish ELT students, namely the prospective teachers of English, focusing on only one aspect of it, that is, the various nongeneric uses of it. For the study, a grammaticality judgment test, adapted from Liu and Gleason (2002), was used. 80 students from the ELT department of a state university in Turkey participated in the study. 40 of the participants were 1st graders while the other 40 were the 4th grade students at the same department. The results of the study revealed that participants had problems in the application of correct uses of nongeneric the, especially in the cultural use of it. Also, there was no significant difference between the overall scores of the participants from different grades. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.