Grammar Spotlight

GrammarThe English Grammar Profile (EGP) is a sister resource to the English Vocabulary Profile, and has been put together by Anne O'Keeffe (Limerick University) and Geraldine Mark, the co-authors, along with Ron Carter and Mike McCarthy, of English Grammar Today (Cambridge University Press). Mark and O'Keeffe investigated the extensive data in the Cambridge Learner Corpus to establish when learners begin to get to grips with different linguistic structures. 

A series of insights from their research will be posted on this page, each one putting the spotlight on an interesting aspect of learner grammar development. Please note that all of the learner examples come from the Cambridge Learner Corpus, a 55-million word electronic collection of written learner data. The examination and the candidate’s first language are given in brackets after each learner example.

See the latest Grammar Spotlight entry below. Scroll right down to the bottom of this page to browse through previous entries.


 

Learners at the C2 level show considerable progress in the range of techniques used for focus. For example, they can use the pattern the + premodifier + thing / fact / point / problem / reason + is (that) for focus.

C2 50x33   The strange thing was that the noise reminded her of someone making a cup of tea. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Swedish)

C2 50x33   The sad fact is poverty is very likely to pass down to the next generation in these situations. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Chinese)

C2 50x33   The relevant point is that that personal, almost intimate relationship between the possessor and the thing possessed is at the core of that particular love we all hold for certain things. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Catalan)

C2 50x33   The only problem is that they are a little too noisy in the night. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Spanish - European)

Learners can also accurately use It + be + noun + that (or who) clause for focus.

C2 50x33   It is this silence that gives me the impression of togetherness, for which no words are needed. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Dutch)

C2 50x33   It was Paul who stole the money. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Chinese)

C2 50x33   It is my mother who always plays the role of mediator. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Polish)

Learners are also able to use Not a + noun with a passive verb or inverted auxiliary and subject for focus.

C2 50x33   Not a word was spoken by anyone throughout the journey. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Greek)

C2 50x33   Not a scrap of remorse do they have. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; French)

Learners at the C2 level also build on some of the skills they learned previously, For example, they are able to use more than one fixed expression in the front position for added focus.

C2 50x33   But all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a bunch of people came running towards him, yelling something he couldn’t understand. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Chinese)

C2 50x33   All in all, taking everything into account, I would suggest that a leisure centre would be the most beneficial as it provides all the facilities necessary to attract and benefit a number of people in the community. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Greek)

C2 50x33   What is more, from my point of view, happiness has nothing to do with big things but with small things such as day-to-day details. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Spanish - European)

C2 level learners can also use How, Why, or Where cleft clauses as the subject for focus.

C2 50x33   How we are brought up forms our character, our thinking and our attitude towards ourselves and towards everybody and everything around us. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; German)

C2 50x33   Why I think my father is successful is because of his personality. He is very fair about everything. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Swedish)

C2 50x33   Where he had gone to was a mystery. (Cambridge English: Proficiency; Dutch)

So, by the C2 level learners are able to use a range of patterns as well as fixed expressions and cleft clauses for focus. Writing at this level demonstrates a keen sense of how to write with purpose and skill in the wide variety of techniques used by learners.

Cambridge University Press