Alternations and Argument Structure in Second Language English: Knowledge of Two Types of Intransitive Verbs

  • Makiko HirakawaEmail author
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 16)


This chapter discusses nontarget “overpassivization” errors in L2 English by Japanese speakers (e.g., the earthquake was happened last night) and the effects of classroom instruction on such errors. A number of studies have reported that the errors in which intransitive verbs appear in the passive form, be + V-ed, are confined to one type of intransitive verb, so-called unaccusative verbs, and that the errors are often found even among high-proficiency learners. An experimental study was conducted at a university in Japan to examine the effects of explicit teaching on the ungrammaticality of passive intransitive verbs. Learners’ knowledge was examined before and after four weeks of teaching. Results partly suggest that instruction had some positive effect on L2 knowledge of English. Even though the amount of instruction learners received in the present study may not have been sufficient for all the learners to attain knowledge that enabled them to correctly reject the ungrammatical passives, individual analyses revealed there were a few learners who appeared to have overcome overpassivization errors.


Subject Position Native English Speaker Sentence Type Test Sentence Negative Evidence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am most grateful to the editors of this volume, in particular Melinda Whong, for her insightful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this chapter. I also benefited from the comments of an anonymous reviewer. Special thanks to all the participants in the experimental study and to Yuri Fujisaki for her help with statistical analyses. This research was in part supported by a grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (No. 22320109), for which I am grateful.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Language and LiteratureBunkyo UniversityKoshigayaJapan

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