The adverbialization of but in Taiwan EFL writing

Chih-Yi WU, Hin Tat CHEUNG, Zao-Ming GAO

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


In EFL writing, BUT shows a regular occurrence at sentence-initial position, a non-standard use that is prescriptively prohibited in written texts. In this present study, we use a corpus approach to first identify the frequency pattern of the positional variation of BUT in learners’ writing. The pattern is then analyzed in terms of its variance between different proficiency levels to see if there is any developmental difference. We also compare the learners’ positional pattern with native speakers’ usage with reference to the British National Corpus. The result shows that the positional pattern of BUT in EFL writing resembles that in native speakers’ oral (rather than written) production. As we further examine the use of sentence-initial BUT, we detect grammatical and functional features that point to the adverbialization of BUT. We further argue that such adverbialization is discourse-register awareness continues to be a major problem for Taiwan EFL learners. Copyright © 2013 Presses Universitaires de Louvain.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTwenty years of learner corpus research: Looking back, moving ahead
EditorsSylviane GRANGER, Gaetanelle GILQUIN, Fanny MEUNIER
Place of PublicationLouvain-La-Neuve
PublisherPresses Universitaires de Louvain
ISBN (Print)9782875581990, 9782875582003, 2875582003
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Wu, C.-Y., Cheung, H., & Gao, Z.-M. (2013). The adverbialization of but in Taiwan EFL writing. In S. Granger, G. Gilquin, & F. Meunier (Eds.), Twenty years of learner corpus research: Looking back, moving ahead (pp. 505-514). Louvain-La-Neuve: Presses Universitaires de Louvain.


  • Second language learning
  • Adversative connectives
  • EFL writing


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