Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 14. Number 3 September 2023                   Pp. 324-338

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Agreement Attraction Errors among Saudi Non-Native English Speakers

 Wafa Aljuaythin
Department of English, College of Language Sciences
King Saud University, Riyadh


Received:05/29/2023         Accepted:09/06/2023                 Published: 09/24/2023


Agreement attraction errors are one of the errors that language users make, and psycholinguists examine as a window into how language processing functions. Agreement attraction errors arise if a sentence has a complex noun phrase with the main noun acting as the controller of agreement and a local noun acting as the attractor for agreement. Earlier research has shown that phrases tend to have more agreement errors than clauses among native speakers of English. This study investigated whether agreement attraction errors are more in phrases than clauses among non-native English speakers with varying proficiency levels from Saudi Arabia, as little has been done on non-native speakers of English. The study used a forced-choice task by instructing the participants to select either singular or plural verbs for each complex noun phrase that was displayed. The quantity and quality of their agreement errors—whether in prepositional phrases or relative clauses—were examined in the study. Furthermore, it contrasted reaction time for items with prepositional phrases to items with relative clauses. Proficiency level was also reviewed to determine how it affected agreement attraction errors. No statistically significant difference was found between the two types, but processing items with prepositional phrases took longer than processing items with relative clauses. Despite past research suggesting that agreement errors are more common in phrases than clauses, the current study did not find this difference to be of significance. The complexity of both sorts of errors is equal among the sample, and proficiency proved to be irrelevant.
Keywords: agreement, attraction, errors, proficiency, production, reaction time, Saudi non-native speakers

Cite as: Aljuaythin, W.  (2023). Agreement Attraction Errors among Saudi Non-Native English Speakers.
Arab World English Journal, 14 (3) 324-338.  DOI:


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Received: 05/29/2023
Accepted: 09/06/2023 
Published: 09/24/2023 

Wafa Aljuaythin is currently an instructor at the Department of English in King Saud University (KSU). Aljuaythin has a Master’s in Applied Linguistics and is a PhD candidate at the Applied Linguistics Program at KSU. Her academic interests include psycholinguistics and discourse analysis, and she is published in these areas. Her publications have been cited numerous times in highly esteemed journals.  ORCID: