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Second language learners of English find it difficult to use the inflectional morphemes properly when writing. The difficulties in using the morphemes arise because of the structural differences between the English language and the mother tongue of the learners. This study explores and highlights the causes of the problems faced by Igbo learners of English as a second language in using the morphemes. The study reveals that the Igbo language lacks inflectional morphemes to show pluralization, genitive case, and third person singular present tense. The only inflectional morpheme the Igbo language possesses is past tense marking in verbs which is only marked following regular patterning. Therefore, the disparity between the English language and the Igbo language is found to be the cause of the problems in using the morphemes. Through the findings in this work, recommendations were given to curriculum planners, teachers and learners to help minimise the problems.


Title Page
Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction
1.1       Background to the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Significance of the Study
1.5       Scope of the Study
1.6       Research Questions
1.7       Limitations to the Study

Chapter Two: Literature Review
2.0       Conceptual Framework
2.1.0 Concept of Morpheme
2.1.1 Free Morphemes
2.1.2 Bound Morphemes
2.1.3 Inflectional Morphemes
2.1.4    Verb Inflection
2.1.5    Noun Inflection
2.1.6    Derivational Morphemes
2.2 Concept of Error
2.3 Interference
2.4 Inter-language
2.5 Problems of Using the Inflectional Morphemes of English
2.5.1Problems of Using the Verb Inflections
2.5.2    Problems of Using the Noun Inflections

Chapter Three: Theoretical Framework and Methodology
3.1 Theoretical Framework
3.2.0    Methodology
3.2.1    Design of the Study
3.2.2    Area of Study
3.2.3    Population of the Study
3.2.4    Sample of the Study
3.2.5    Sampling Technique
3.2.6    Instrument for Data Collection
3.2.7    Method of Data Collection
3.2.8    Method of Data Analysis

Chapter Four: Data Analysis, and Summary
4.1.0    Research Question 1
4.1.1    Errors of Omission
4.1.2    Errors of Misuse
4.1.3    Errors of Pronunciation
4.2       Research Question 2
4.3       Research Question 3
4.4 Summary

Chapter Five: Discussion, Conclusion, and Recommendations
Discussion of the Findings
Works Cited


1.1        Background to the Study
A second language (L2) is a language next in rank to a bilingual person. In Nigeria, the English language is a second language to most people. In addition to the mother tongue (MT) which most Nigerians acquire as children, English ranks second in the Nigerian context. It is the functional language used for wider communication by most Nigerians – literate and illiterate alike. This is as a result of the British invasion on Nigeria. However, after the ousting of the British government, the language remained partly because of the prestige it gained during the colonial rule, and partly because Nigeria is made up of so many ethnic groups with different languages. These ethnic groups were always in contact with one another

-   either through trade or migration, and, of course, they needed a general language in which to communicate with one another and the English language became the best choice since it was a common and general language to serve as Communication Bridge between the indigenous languages.

However, since the language is not indigenous to Nigeria, and it is not acquired or learned in a natural setting, it has been greatly influenced by the MTs of the different ethnic groups using it as L2 in Nigeria. Most of these influences are negative, because, many times they have hindered communication and intelligibility. It is worthy to note here that English has become a global language. Therefore, if Nigerians must use English, it has to be the English that is intelligible and acceptable to all for communication to be effective. Mother tongue (MT) influence has been noted to be a major cause of the problems associated with using the language in Nigeria (Sam Onuigbo and Eyisi “English Language…” 103; Femi Akindele and Adegbite “The Sociology…” 69). This is because most Nigerian users of the English language tend to structure the language to fit into the frame of their MTs. The act has given rise to errors because of the structural differences between the two languages. Also, the two languages in question (English and L1) are not closely related. They belong to different language families. Therefore, transferring the features of one into another are bound to create errors. Also, the learners in trying to reconcile the features of the two languages in contact, develop an inter-language – a kind of intermediate language developed by L2 learners - which they use to express themselves in a language foreign to them.

Another problem faced by the learners is the irregularity and inconsistency which mark the English grammatical rules. Sam Onuigbo and J. Eyisi summarise the above thus:
The … English in Nigeria and in any second language situation is affected by two important factors. The first factor which is a very strong one derives from the interference from the native languages and other languages in contact. The second one, which is equally crucial results from the inherent irregularities within the structure of the second language itself. (103)

No English rule is followed blindly to the end because each rule is marked with exceptions. The learners, who are learning English in a formal setting – classroom - are made aware of the rules of the language which they are expected to master. However, the mastering of the rules is not properly internalized by the learners who always get confused on where and when to apply the rules. The inflectional morphemes on which this study is based upon pose usage problems to learners.
Inflectional morphemes which are one of the two types of bound morphemes in the English language serve as grammatical markers that indicate tense, number, possession and comparison. According to George Yule (The Study… 77), the inflectional morphemes are not used to create new words in the English language. They only perform grammatical functions in words. In other words, they do not change the grammatical category of the word they are attached to. They are used to show plurality and the genitive case (ownership) in nouns, tense.....

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