Noun Phrase Construction in Academic Research Articles


  • Thu Lau Oklahoma State University , Oklahoma, United States



noun phrase, syntactic complexity, semantic function, research articles, corpus


The study explored the syntactic complexity and semantic function of noun phrases in TESOL academic research articles. The corpus was comprised of 60 articles (572874 words) from three TESOL journals including TESOL Quarterly, TESOL Journal, and Journal of Second Language Writing. POS tagging was added to the corpus using TagAnt 1.2.0 (Anthony, 2015). A list of 20 highest-frequency nouns was generated using wordlist tool in AntConc 3.3.4 (Anthony, 2014). Based on the specific contexts of these nouns, the researcher analyzed the syntactic complexity of noun phrases in light of their pre-modifiers and post-modifiers. The semantic function of noun phrases was analyzed based on the excerpts generated by the Concordance tool. The results showed that the complexity of noun phrases was dependent on the complexity of their premodifiers and postmodifiers. A complex postmodifier usually contained more than one element, embedding prepositional phrases, nonfinite clauses, or relative clauses. The use of noun phrases enabled the writer to increase cohesion and coherence within and across the text. The findings were of value to both L2 learners and young scholars in developing their writing performance for the target journals in the field


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How to Cite

Lau, T. (2017). Noun Phrase Construction in Academic Research Articles. International Journal Online of Humanities, 3(6), 76–96.