The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

A Study on L2 Acquisition & Output of the English Relative Clause with a Specific Focus on the Zero Relativizer


  • Christoffer Olsson

Summary, in English

This study investigates how L2 learners of English in different stages of the learning process acquire, and more importantly, produce restrictive relative clauses of which special emphasis is put on the zero relativizer. The relevance of this narrow focus stems from previous research on SLA of relative clauses that has shown that it is a particularly troublesome area for L2 learners that is largely tied to the animacy of the antecedent (Guy & Bayley, 1995, p. 148; Ortega, 2013, pp. 39-41).

The study was carried out by utilizing two different elicitation instruments of which one was a grammaticality judgment task and the other a cloze task which were specifically designed to elicit variants of relative pronouns and relativizers. The tasks were distributed to two groups of participants consisting of Swedish university students. One group consisted of nine A level students of English and one group that consisted of nine C level students of English. This was to simulate different stages of the learning process for L2 learners of English. Factors such as age, scholarly background and gender were considered beyond the scope of the present study and were therefore not taken into account.

Results in both tasks indicated a more prominent preference of the zero relativizer among the C level students compared to the A level students. Contrastively, the results also indicated that the A level students were more prone to use case marking relativizers than the C level students. Furthermore, it was also shown that while the relative subordinator that by a large margin was the most popular among both A and C level students in the grammaticality judgment task, it was the opposite in the cloze task which yielded more case marking relativizer answers. Ultimately, the C level students produced more target-like-forms than did the A level students at the expense of less variety.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Language
  • English
  • Linguistics
  • Relative clause
  • Relative pronoun
  • Relativizer
  • SLA


  • Francis Hult (Docent)