• Roslina Abdul Aziz Akademi Pengajian Bahasa, Universiti Teknologi MARA Cawangan Pahang, Lintasan Semarak, 26400 Bandar Jengka, Pahang, Malaysia.
  • Zuraidah Mohd Don Akademi Bahasa, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.


Background and Purpose: There is little research on the use of BE-copula in learner compositions in terms of how BE is used, and what functions it performs at specific stages of composition. This study aims to investigate the functions of BE-copula in argumentative essays written by non-native speaker (NS) and native speaker (NNS) learners and determine the similarities and differences in the way the learners use BE­-copula in their essays.


Methodology: This descriptive study employed a corpus-based methodology with the corpus data obtained from the Malaysian Corpus of Learner English (MACLE) and Louvain Corpus of Native English Essays (LOCNESS). Only data from L1-Malay learners, which were extracted from MACLE, and which form a sub-corpus of L1-Malay learner argumentative essays, were analyzed in the study. Adopting Hyland’s three-stage structure of an argumentative essay as the framework for analysis, data were analyzed for the distribution of BE-copula and the functions it performed in the learner essays.


Findings: Results from the quantitative analysis revealed a similar pattern in the use of BE-copula between NNS and NS learners, with both groups showing an inclination towards the present forms (is, are) and BE-copula construction. A t-test analysis revealed a more significant use of BE-copula in terms of both forms and functions by the NS learners. The qualitative analysis revealed that even though the NNS learners exhibited almost similar composing elements as the NS counterparts, their texts were stylistically simple, more constrained, less fluent, and effective due to limited syntactic variety.


Contributions: The empirical findings from the in depth quantitative and qualitative analyses have enabled more insightful conclusions to be drawn about the NNS learners’ use of BE-copula in their writing. The present study has direct pedagogical implications for the teaching of academic writing in the ESL context.


Keywords: Argumentative essay, academic writing, be-copula, corpus-based, learner corpus research.


Cite as: Abdul Aziz, R., & Mohd Don, Z. (2022). A corpus-based study of be-copula in native speaker and non-native speaker learners’ argumentative essays.  Journal of Nusantara Studies, 7(2), 21-43. http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol7iss2pp21-43


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How to Cite
Abdul Aziz, R., & Mohd Don, Z. (2022). A CORPUS-BASED STUDY OF BE-COPULA IN NATIVE SPEAKER AND NON-NATIVE SPEAKER LEARNERS’ ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAYS. Journal of Nusantara Studies (JONUS), 7(2), 21-43. https://doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol7iss2pp21-43