The Acquisition of Grammatical Marking of Indefiniteness with the Indefinite Article a in L2 English

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Monika Ekiert


The article system is a notorious source of difficulty for second language (L2) learners of English, largely because it is based on a complex set of abstract distinctions which are, to some extent, arbitrarily mapped onto surface forms (a, the, and zero). This difficulty is only compounded when learners’ first languages (L1s) do not share the same surface features and/or the same semantic conceptualizations with the target language (TL). This study is about the acquisition of grammatical marking of indefiniteness in L2 English as exemplified by a learner’s use of the indefinite article a. The ways in which L2 acquirers manage to make sense of English articles and even the cases when they do not offer fascinating insights into learners’ cognition (Young, 1996). The specific focus of this study is on whether differences in the grammatical treatment of indefiniteness in L1 and L2 correspond with detectable and systematic differences in interlanguage (Selinker, 1972).

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