(A Study on the Students’ Enhancement in English Grammar)



The main purpose of English teaching at the State Islamic College of Palangka Raya is in order to the students should have some abilities in using of that foreign language that consist of the four language skills:  listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The most essential of that teaching is stressed on the students’ competence in making of communication by using either spoken or written language.

The linguistic competence and performance of course need the other knowledge such as grammar and vocabulary. Grammatical knowledge is not enough, but the most important thing is the real abilities in using of grammar in practicing of that language.

One of the real implementation of language skills is writing. In academic atmosphere it can not be denied. For example, thesis of this time is becoming of the final assignment in fulfilling or finishing of the students’ study. In writing a thesis, the students need some conditions: writing principles, grammatical mastery, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuations.

Writing is different from speaking. In writing it can not use some expressive of speaking properties. Our body languages can not be used when we are writing. If it is compared by speaking, effective writing needs some conditions that mentioned above. The writers should have good ability in organizing ideas and information, diction, grammar, and sentence structures to create the best style that is suitable with the main topic and the readers’ expectation. The example of grammatical errors made by the student in English thesis abstract  can be seen as follows.

Study of Islam Education in Elementary School of Buntoi I, II and III taught by teacher of is non moslem, because in one school of Elementary School of Buntoi I, and III do not have the one teacher which believe in the Islam, while for the Elementary School of Buntoi II there is teacher believe in the Islam of but do not teach the Islam Education. Become, all subject taught by teacher of is non Moslem is including Islam education, while in Elementary School of Buntoi II, Islam education taught by teacher is non Moslem although in the school have the teacher believe in the Islam but they teach the other subject.

For that problems lifted in this research is; 1) Why Islam education taught by teacher of non moslem in Elementary School of Buntoi I, II And III; 2) How teacher is non moslem teach the Islam education in Elementary School of Buntoi I, II and III?. There by the target of this research is to know why Islam education taught by teacher is non moslem in Elementary School of Buntoi I, II And III; and to know how teacher is non moslem teach the Islam education in Elementary School of Buntoi I, II and III.

(Data 20:010 111 0349)

If the student’ writing above is analyzed, so it seems that in the beginning of sentence declares that Study of Islam Education in Elementary School of Buntoi I, II and III taught by teacher of is non moslem It of course makes misunderstanding to understand it. Why? dictions and passive cases become the main barrier to understand of that sentence. Based on the types of sentences used by the student above, it is known that she did not know how to use the best word that refered to some subjects at school. Study of Islam Education should be said the Islamic Education subject, meanwhile the passive voice form in the sentence above was incorrect. The running sentences are dominant in the above sentence. Therefore, the essential messages in the abstract above are not effective to say. The ungrammatical cases are dominant in those sentences. To write needs some conditions in English. The students who have some writing experiences in Indonesian and will write in English, of course they should have good basic writing skill in that foreign language. Indonesian and English system are different.

The next sentences of the student’ writing is …because in one school of Elementary School of Buntoi I, and III do not have the one teacher which believe in the Islam, while for the Elementary School of Buntoi II there is teacher believe in the Islam of but do not teach the Islam Education. If it is analyzed that there are some grammatical errors that can be seen. For examples: …because in one school of elementary school of Buntoi I, and III do not have the one teacher which believe in the Islam…It can be concluded that the student considers that Islamic teacher is not human being, but she/he is animal. This problem appears in using of which. We know that which can be used to describe thing in adjective clause.  In addition, there are some grammatical errors that are interesting to describe in the abstract above. In these cases, it needs to study and explore to the level of descriptive or explanative study.

Based on the background of the study, there are three main problems in this study as follows: (1) How are the grammatical errors made by the students in writing of thesis abstract in English?, (2) How are the best solutions to the grammatical errors made by the students in writing of thesis abstract in English?, and (3) How are the contribution of the grammatical errors made by the students in writing of thesis abstract in English? The objectives of this study are as follows: (1) To describe the grammatical errors made by the students in writing of thesis abstract in English; (2) To give the best solution to the grammatical errors made by students in writing of thesis abstract in English, and (3) To describe the contribution of the grammatical errors made by the students in writing of thesis abstract in English. So, there will be the best synergy in doing of teaching learning process especially in English teaching for this moment and  the future.

The findings of the study were about the grammatical errors made by the students in writing of their thesis abstract in English. The result of this study would be able to be used to all the planning makers and program organizers, specifically to: (1) Solve the students’ problem in writing of thesis abstract in English; (2) Encourage the students’ qualification in writing especially by using of EFL writing; (3) Give the most important contribution to improve in English teaching process right now and the future; and (4) Observe errors in the use of English grammar which could be intralingual errors caused by the influence of the target language itself or mother tongue; transfer of training errors caused by faulty material presentation by English teachers or textbooks; second language learning strategies which are the processes by which learners form, test, or modify hypotheses about the nature of the target language; and second language communication strategies by which learners attempt to handle the heavy communication demands facing them.


Quirk, et all (2000:37) says that grammar is a complex system, the parts of which cannot be properly explained in abstraction from the whole. In this sense, all parts of a grammar are mutually defining, and there is no simple linear path we can take in explaining one part in terms of another. If we would like to know the meaning of word ‘grammar’ so of course it has various meanings. We shall be using grammar to include both syntax and that aspect of morphology (the internal structure of words) that deal with inflections. The fact that the past tense of buy is bought (inflection) and the fact that the interrogative form of He bought it is Did he buy it? (syntax). Radford (1998:261) says that grammar is the study of how words, phrases and sentences are formed. A grammar of a language is a description of how words, phrases and sentences are formed in the relevant language. Therefore, Patricia Murrow (2002:1) says that all languages have structure. Strings of words have little or no meaning unless they are ordered in a way recognizable to the listerner or reader.

In a fairly obvious sense, any native speaker of a language can be said to know the grammar of his or her native language. After all, native speakers clearly know how to form and interpret words, phrases and sentences in their native language. For example, any native speaker of English can tell us that the negative counterpart of I like grammar is I don’t like grammar, and not e.g. *I no like grammar: thus, it might say that native speakers know how to negate sentences in their language.

Celce-Murcia in Patricia Murrow (2002:5) take an even stronger stance in proposing that we must:

“…analyze virtually all of English grammar at the discourse level in order to be able to teach our students rules of grammar that will serve them when they read and write English for Academic or communication purposes”

However, it is  important to emphasize that this grammatical knowledge is tacit (subconscious) rather than explicit (conscious). Nunan (1998:117) says that the principal focus of language teaching has been on the grammar of the language for much of this century. While grammar translation approaches to the teaching of language provided a balanced diet of grammar and vocabulary, audio-linguists suggested that the emphasis should be strongly on the acquisition of the basic grammatical patterns of the language. Some even go as far as claiming that certain structures may not be acquired if not taught (Cook in Bataineh, 2008:5).

Hamp-Lyons and Heasly in Nunan (1998:91-92) says that writing is clearly a complex process, and competent writing is frequently accepted as being the last language skill to be acquired. By writing she/he has tried to use her/his grammatical competence. We have seen that written language has its own characteristics which reflect the purpose for which it has evolved. It is important to be aware of the differences between spoken and written language. Beforehand, it is stated that by writing impossible of the speaking properties can be used in that activity. But, the both of two skills need grammatical rule. Halliday in Nunan (1999:85) says that  speech is no less structured or complex than writing. Written language is complex at the level of the clause, while spoken language is complex in the way clauses are linked together.

Chomsky in Radford (1998:2-4) has drawn a distinction between competence and performance. Competence is the speaker-hearer’s knowledge of his language, while performance is the actual use of language in concrete situation. Very often, performance is an imperfect reflection of competence: we all make occasional slips of tongue, or occasionally misinterpret what someone else says to us. However, this doesn’t mean that we don’t know our native language, don’t have competence in it. In this study, grammar will be concerned with grammatical competence rather than grammatical performance. Betty Schrampfer (1989:A29) gives the best guide for correcting writing errors.

The list of type’s error as follows: 1. Singular-plural; 2. Word form;  3. Word choice; 4. Verb tense; 5. Add a word; 6. Omit a word; 7. Word order; 8. Incomplete sentence; 9. Spelling; 10. Punctuations; 11. Capitalization; 12. Article; 13. Meaning not clear; 14. Run-on sentence.

Based on the belief that the primary purpose of instruction in grammar is to help our students use English correctly and appropriately. While some classroom time will undoubtedly be devoted to teaching grammar rules and to having students practice grammatical patterns, it is important to remember that such instruction is only the means toward helping out students gain competence and confidence in the language (Mckay in Nunan, 1998:154).

According to the American Psychological Association in Sutanto Leo et al (2007:99-109), an abstract, which is “a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of the article,” needs to be “accurate,…self-contained,…[and] concise and specific”.

This can be explained as follows:

Accurate means it shoud represent the purpose and content of the writing, excluding information not found in the body of the writing. Self-contained: it defines all abbreviations, acronyms, and unique terms; so that, the readers do not need to look for information from other sources to understand the language. Concise and specific: it should be as brief as possible (in APA sytle preferably not exceeding 120 words).

More definitions, according to Gengshen and Yungzhen in Sutanto Leo et al (2007:100) say that:

An abstract is a stand-alone statement that briefly conveys the essential information of a paper, article, document, or book; it presents the objective, methods, result, and conclusion of a study.

Meanwhile, a paper from Abstract Writing Workshop (Sutanto Leo et al, 2007:100) defines:

An abstract as a concise summary of a larger document *thesis, essay, book, research report, journal publication, etc. *that highlights major points covered in the work; concisely describes the content and of the writing; identifies the methodology used; and identifies the findings, conclusions, or intended results.

Based on the quotations above, an abstract should show at least four linguistic features: limited length, particular category, complete content, and formalized structure. In this study, thesis is an academic writing, therefore there are three basic principles in academic writing: content, register, and topic. Refering to content, it should be made clear, specific, and relevant. However, register should be formal, to the point, and concise. Topic, on the other hand, should be free from offences, and should avoid sensitive issues in most cases (Sutanto Leo et al, 2007:1).

Academic writing differs from non-academic writing in terms of being formal or informal.  Formality refers to a particular style of writing in which nonstandard, colloquial, or slangy language should be avoided. Therefore, the language should be free from grammatical errors. In others words, academic writing pays more attention to choice of vocabulary, sentence structure, and style (Sutanto Leo et al, 2007:2).

Because of that, it can not deny the fact that to write a good abstract needs special attention. It should be free from ineffective sentence, singular-plural case, diction problem, and meaning not clear. To the point, it should be free from all errors: grammatical errors or writing errors.

According to Hornby (2000:559), grammatical means connected with the rules of grammar or correctly following the rules of grammar. In this study the students’ grammatical errors refer to the application of a rule of English in an inappropriate situation. The basic concept of competence and performance, of course becomes the main point in this case. Beforehand, Radford says that grammar is the study of how words, phrases and sentences are formed. A grammar of a language is a description of how words, phrases and sentences are formed in the relevant language. If a grammar of a language that is  not formed approapriately, it could be concluded that there is a grammatical error.

The framework of the study can be described as follows:

In academic atmosphere, the students’ ability in transforming of their ideas by writing is very essential. It cannot deny the fact that if they want to finish their study, they should write thesis. In that thesis, so of course there would be an abstract either in English or Indonesian.  In writing of the abstract especially in English, the students should have grammatical competence. If they do not have it so, of course grammatical errors would be made by them. The finding of grammatical errors would force the English teachers to get the best solution to the implication of English teaching process previously. Therefore, there would be the best contribution if the grammatical errors were described and studied in this project.


This study was done at the Islamic State College of Palangka Raya. Based on the problem of the study, it was very clear that this study was to describe about the grammatical errors made by students in writing of their thesis abstract in English. So, the types of this study is descriptive qualitative. Therefore, the qualitative data were needed in this case. The strategy of this study used the qualitative study as the basic research. Data or the most important data that were collected and studied in this study were the qualitative data. This information  got from the sources of the data in this study were some documents. After reading of those theses, there were just 20 theses that were choosen in this study. Those theses were taken from a study program. The avarage students did not write an abstract in English.  Most of the students wrote an abstract in Indonesian. From the Islamic Law and Islamic Broadcasting Study Program were not found out the abstracts in English. Therefore, abstracts in Indonesian did not become of the target in this study.

Bambang Setiyadi (2006:239-50) says that data collection technique in teaching and learning of the foreign language as follows: observation, interview, documentation and triangulation.  Regarding to the form of the study and the types of sources of the data that were used, so the data collection technique  applied was documentation. According to Bambang Setiyadi (2006:249) document is one of the most important source data in qualitative study. He also says that the study on grammatical errors in writing skill, it can be used document as the strategy to get the real data.

In the qualitative study, the sampling technique will not be used as the statistic sampling or probability sampling that is always used in quantitative study. The qualitative study in this case will be used the purposive sampling or criterion-based selection. The criterion-based selection means that the students’ thesis abstract in English are becoming of the main data in this study. There are 72 thesis will be the source of data in this study. In determining of which thesis will be become of the target of this study, so of course thesis that has abstract in English written.

Sutopo (2002:78-80) says that triangulation is the most common used to improve the data validity in a qualitative research. Patton in Sutopo (2002:78) says that there are four types of triangulation technique: data triangulation, investigator triangulation, methodological triangulation and theoretical  triangulation. Therefore, the data validity that was used in this study was the data triangulation. The function of the data triangulation is to make sure that the data needed used the data source was like the students’ thesis abstract or documents. By getting data from some kinds of data source that were different to another, the data needed could be valid. The main step of data triangulation could be described as follows.

Bambang Setiyadi (2006:255-66) says that there are some  data analysis technique in a qualitative research: typology, taxonomic analysis, domain analysis, inductive analysis, discourse analysis and content analysis. In this study the data needed were got by documentation, therefore the data analysis that was used was content analysis. Bambang Setiyadi (2006:266) says that the content analysis is very suitable to analyse the written data. This technique was used to categorize the grammatical errors that were made by the students in writing abstract in English. By categorizing of the grammatical errors, it could be decided the serious errors in the students’ abstract in English.


There were three principles of this study that should be described in this chapter. They were as follows.

  1. 1. The Grammatical Errors Made by the Students in Writing of Thesis Abstract in English




Word choice



Word order



Plural-singular nouns



Verb tense






Indonesian terms used



Run-on sentence



Article (missing and misusing)



Meaning not clear



Ineffective sentence



Redundant words



Misspelling words



Word form



Incomplete sentence



Misusing possessive nouns and adjectives



Adjectives order



Misconstructing of wh-questions*



Misusing preposition



To be (missing and misapply)



Misconstructing of passive voice



Unparallel structure



Misusing of relative clause



Negative sentence case



Subject not clear



Misusing -ing form and -ing form



Capitalization (missing and miscapitalized)



Misusing “be able to”



Misconstructing of negative and affirmative



Misapplying reflexive pronouns “by self”


Total of grammatical errors frequency


  1. 2. The Best Solutions to the Grammatical Errors  Made by the Students in Writing of Thesis Abstract in English

The main purpose of errors classification is to provide the best strategy in studying of the crucial problem. The grammatical errors that were done by the students, of course it was needed special properties to get the best solution of that problem.

This study had tried to find out what kind of serious errors made by the students. After categorising of the grammatical errors, the English teachers would be able to encourage the students to review what they had studied before. By categorising of the grammatical errors, to be or not to be the crucial errors should be able to be taught by the English teacher. Remedial teaching of grammar should be done to all errors classification got.

Once again, there is no the best strategy in overcoming of the students’ grammatical errors. But, use the data errors to develop the English teaching process. Errors can be used to enhance the students’ grammatical skill in the problem areas.

  1. 3. The Contribution of the Grammatical Errors Made by the Students in Writing of Thesis Abstract

The main significant of the description of the students’ grammatical errors were to encourage the result of the teaching learning process done to the students. The successful teaching would be decided if the grammatical errors could be minimalized by the students. Therefore, the grammatical errors description were very essential to increase the teachers’ motivation in teaching learning process. Errors were important. They could make some change in language teaching.

The real contribution of the grammatical errors that were made by the students, of course they became the source how and what to teach the English grammar to the students.

Errors classification could give some indicators to the teachers what and how to give the best material to the students. Once again, the material should be suitable what the students needed in the end of their study.

The last but not end, the errors classification or description should be able to be used to enhance the students’ grammatical skills in overcoming of the main problem. By describing of the students’ grammatical errors, the English teachers have known that what she/he has to do in the class room.


The most common errors that were made by the students as follows: word choice, word order, plural-singular nouns, verb tense,  missing and misapplying article, ineffective sentence, punctuation, unparallel structure, misspelling,  verb tense, punctuation,  indonesian terms used,  run-on sentence,  article (missing and misusing), meaning not clear,  ineffective sentence,  redundant words, misspelling words, word form, incomplete sentence, misusing possessive nouns and adjectives, adjectives order, misconstructing of wh-questions. The grammatical errors results were interesting and provided insight to the English teacher into areas requiring special attention in the classroom.

Description of the students’ grammatical errors should be able to use to encourage the teaching learning process in the classroom. The results of this study suggest way to enhance and improve the current curriculla for students in English writing. By using some data of this study, the students’ grammatical skills  could be developed a coherent program. Moreover, the teacher should be able to revise the task schedule of the students in providing opportunities to develop the students’ structure in the real contexts. The last most important is a class instructor should provide class time to revise the grammar that the students already know, but always with the opportunity to apply the rules for communication.


Azar, Betty Schrampfer. 1989. Understanding and Using English Grammar Second Edition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents.

____________________. 1992. Fundamentals of English Grammar, Edisi Dwibahasa. Jakarta: Binarupa Aksara.

Bambang Setiyadi. 2006. Metode Penelitian untuk Pengajaran Bahasa Asing: Pendekatan Kuantitatif dan Kualitatif. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Graha Ilmu.

Bataineh, Rula Fahmi. 2008. Jordanian Undergraduate EFL Students’ Errors in the Use of the Indefinite Article. In Asian EFL Journal: English Language Teaching and Research Article. Volume 7, Issue 1 Article 4 ISSN: 1738-1460 in www. EFL.Journal%.202008.htm

Buku Memory. 2007. Wisuda XVI Sekolah Tinggi Agama Islam Negeri Palangka Raya. Palangka Raya: STAIN Press.

Bram, Barli. 1995. Write Well: Improving of Writing Skills. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Kanisius.

Hornby, A.S. 2000. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Leo, Sutanto dkk. 2007. English for Academic Purpose: Essay Writing. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Andi.

Murrow, Patricia. 2002. Analysis of Grammatical Errors in Students’ Writing in Online October 20,  2008.

Nunan, David. 1998. Language Teaching Methdology: a Textbook for Teachers. New York: Prentice Hall International English Language Teaching.

Quirk, Randolph, et all, 2000. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman Group Limited.

Radford, 1998. Syntax. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sukamto, E. Katharina, ed., 2003. Rampai Bahasa, Pendidikan, dan Budaya: Kumpulan Esai Soenjono Dardjowidjojo. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.

Sutopo, 2004. Metodologi Penelitian Kualitatif Dasar Teori dan Terapannya dalam Penelitian. Surakarta: Sebelas Maret University.

Wishon, G.E. and Burks, Julia M. 1980. Let’s Write English Revised Edition. New York: American Book Company.



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  3. possesive and reflexive pronouns

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