A study of the difficulties in learning prepositions in English by Brazilian students

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Feres, Rosa M., 1946-
Ross, Janet, 1914-
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This paper presents an analysis of the errors in the use of prepositions made in written English by Brazilian students.The errors shown here are the basis for explaining the difficulties Brazilian-Portuguese speakers have in selecting the correct prepositions according to the context. This analysis will account for the causes of errors such as interference, false analogies, carelessness, or insufficient knowledge of the English grammar.The data used for this study was collected in three Brazilian schools: a state high school and a private College in Barbacena, Minas Gerais, and a BI-National Center in Rio de Janeiro (Insituto Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos).A total of 48 compositions were analyzed. Three topics were selected to provide the students a chance to use a great number of prepositions& "A Day in My Life", "People of Rio", and "My Last Trip".The errors encountered were classified according to the possible cause for errors. This classification shows the basic reasons for difficulties in using prepositions in English by Brazilian-Portuguese speakers, which was the first concern of this paper.The final results of this analysis show that interference of the mother tongue, either under the form of pure interference, the form of translation, or the use of other grammatical facts constitutes the greatest factor responsible for errors. The conclusion shows that the high percentage of 59.5 percent of errors is due to pure interference, 18.1 per cent is due to translation, 4.9 per cent to the use of the possessive form 's, and 9.9 per cent to the use of the article. On the whole, 92.4 per cent of the errors are due to some form of interference.Besides these numbers, the final conclusions also show that prepositions cannot be analyzed as isolated units, for the errors were-greatly influenced by other aspects of the target language such as the use of two-word verbs, expressions used with certain prepositions, grammatical facts, and vocabulary influences.