Arab World English Journal (July 2022)                       Theses ID 287                                               Pp. 1-74

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The Syntactic Structure of Question Formation of the Saudi EFL Learners 

Wejdan Saleh Alqahtani

Author: Wejdan Saleh Alqahtani
Thesis Title: The Syntactic Structure of Question Formation of the Saudi EFL Learners
Institution: English Department,  Faculty of Languages and Translation, King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia
Degree:  M.A.
Major: Applied Linguistics
Year of award:
Prof. Ali Alamir
Keywords: Canonical tag question, misformation alternating forms, intensive curruculum, unqualified teachers

English Question Formation in the Saudi context has received very little attention. To the best of our knowledge, there are two studies conducted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA): one looked at the difficulties Saudi students faced when constructing English questions with specific regard to wh and yes/no questions, and the primary problems associated with their difficulties (Al-Hassaani, 2016). Another study analyzed the errors Saudi EFL learners made when forming wh questions and the reasons behind making them (Addaibani, 2017). Therefore, this current study is seen as the first study that aims to analyze Saudi students’ errors in constructing tag questions (canonical tag questions), wh questions, and yes/ no questions at King Khalid University (KKU). It found out the reasons behind making such errors and the difficulties that they faced when forming these English question types. For achieving this study’s aims, a mixed-method research approach was employed, and data were collected from grammatical tests and interviews (open-ended interviews). Saudi students’ errors were examined by using the grammatical test in which they were required to generate wh, yes/no, and canonical tag questions. Further, to examine Saudi students’ difficulties and causes of making errors, the researcher conducted open-ended interviews. After reaching out to the findings of this study, it showed disagreement with similar previous studies. First, the most difficult English type in terms of formation was wh questions, including the highest number of errors in the “Wrong Wh Question Word” category. Then tag questions (canonical tag questions) came to be in the second rank of difficulty, and “Mis-formation Alternating Forms” was the highest category of errors. Lastly, yes/no questions were the easiest ones for Saudi EFL learners, and the common type was the “Wrong Auxiliary” category. This current study has also revealed that some of the students’ errors were due to lack of practice and community as affected reasons, and intensive curriculum and unqualified teachers as less affected reasons.

Cite as: Alqahtani, W. S. (2022). The Syntactic Structure of Question Formation of the Saudi EFL Learners. English Department,  Faculty of Languages and Translation, King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia (M.A.Thesis). Retrieved from Arab World English Journal (ID Number: 287)  july, 2022:1-74. DOI:


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Wejdan Saleh Merai Alqahtani holds MA in applied linguistics from English Department, Faculty of Languages
and Translation, King Khalid University.