Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Punske, Jeffrey


Verb-particle constructions are one of the most complex components of the English language. Understanding and producing such difficult constructs in a second language (L2) is a challenge for L2 learners of English. This research was based on the study by Blais and Gonnerman (2013). The purpose of the current study was to measure American and Saudi participants' sensitivity to the degree of semantic similarity between verb/verb-particle constructions. The survey of similarity ratings was administered to 107 American native English speakers and 67 Saudi English learners. The participants were asked to rate 78 items based on their knowledge of the semantic similarity between verb/verb-particle pairs. Results revealed two major findings; American native speakers and Saudi English learners did not behave consistently with the similarity rating task, and the results did not support the previous categorizations of 78 items that established by Blais and Gonnerman. Extrapolating from these findings, it appears that similarity judgments of verb/verb-particle pairs may be sample-specific, even among native speakers. Therefore, it is questionable whether Blais and Gonnerman's instrument can be used to reliably compare the judgments of different samples of native and non-native speakers.




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