Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Language Education

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature | Language and Literacy Education


Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education


Dept of English and Applied Linguistics


Best Thesis

Thesis Advisor

Shirley N. Dita

Defense Panel Chair

Aireen B. Arnuco

Defense Panel Member

Sterling M. Plata
Jenniffer T. De Ramos


The implementation of the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses reflects the magnitude of the learners’ need to hone their skills in respect of the linguistic, cultural, and academic nature of English for higher disciplinary undertakings. Specifically, academic writing has been arduous and closely focused due to its stern objective and consequential characteristics. In view of this, the present research attempts to investigate the collocations, semantic, and syntactic features of a specific linguistic component in academic writing, particularly the adverbials. Quirk et al. (1985) defined adverbials as non-obligatory linguistic components in the sentence, but it has an exceedingly complex semantic taxonomy and direct context impact. The present research investigates subjunct adverbial categories which are used as emphasizers, intensifiers, and focusing subjuncts. The call to deeply understand subjuncts is based on the notion that the meaning can extensively realign or influence not only the context, but also the organizational and logical dimensions of the sentence. Furthermore, previous English adverbial studies in the Philippines are only limited to disjuncts, emphasizers, sentence-initial adjuncts, and a few subjunct items investigated through corpus linguistics and content analysis; hence, a bigger scope of adverbial subjunct study is highly demanded (Alonzo & Dita, 2019; Caparas, 2017; Dita, 2011; Hernandez, 2017; Martin, 2004; Yao & Collins, 2017). The detachment with adverbial studies is due to the stereotypical notion that these items are not of equal importance compared with the other sentence components (e.g., nouns, verbs, adjectives). Hypothetically, the semantic features may in fact also reflect the cultural dimension of the writer’s preference in general. Hence, the present research aims to clearly describe not only the obscurity of its utilization in academic writing, specifically in the genre of research, but also the possible adverbialization or grammaticalization in the context of using Philippine English.

The comprehensive study utilized a 1.4-million-word corpus of Senior High School (SHS) research in both academic and technical-vocational strands. A total of 8,222 occurrences of 99 specific subjuncts items are studied based on the theoretical framework of Quirk et al. (1985) adverbial nomenclature and previous adverbial studies (Desagulier, 2017; Ernst, 2020; Gisova, 2014; Liu & Espino, 2018; Lyons, 1990; Maschler & Estlein, 2008; Vandenvergen & Aijmer, 2007). The present research investigates the subjuncts’ frequency, semantic, and syntactic features. First, the frequency of occurrences of the adverbial subjuncts are studied in the SHS academic writing and reported through text normalization or density per 1,000 words. Second, subjuncts are studied based on their collocation via cluster per 3-grammatical units and pre-/post-modification with associated verbs. Moreover, the nature of the collocated verbs is investigated based on its semantic orientation such as physical, mental, evidential, and epistemic nature. Third, the syntactic features are studied based on sentence positions (i.e., initial, initial-medial, medial, ending, etc.) underpinned by Quirk et al. (1985). Moreover, the present research used Antconc V. 3.5.8, a concordance software, to analyze the linguistic features of the subjuncts and utilized corpus linguistic principles in analyzing the written texts.

Based on the analysis, the occurrence of subjuncts in the corpus corresponds with the optional item description of adverbials (Quirk et al., 1985; Leech, 2006). Hence, SHS research subscribes to the typical manner based on Quirk et al.’s (1985) Comprehensive Grammar on English Language (CGEL). Interestingly, focusing – subjuncts exhibit the highest tendency in the SHS research, which showed the propensity of limiting or expanding the focused item/s in the sentence. In respect of other subjunct categories and subcategories, specific items appeared to deviate from their prominent utilization in academic writing based on British and American corpus.

Syntactically speaking, the use of subjuncts in the SHS corpus corresponds with Quirk et al. (1985) use of adverbial subjuncts prominently in the initial-medial (iM) position. Although, note that some specific subjunct items deviate from the typical syntactic patterns, which correspond to Scopal Theory (Ernst, 2020) stating that adverbials can be freely adjoined to any projections.

Semantically speaking, physical and evidential orientation are observed as a typical meaning realization of subjuncts in academic writing. However, these findings reflect conflicting principles in view of Intersubjectivity, Subjectivity, or Interpersonal Realm of Discourse in using adverbials (Bamford, 2005; Langacker, 1990; Maschler & Estlein, 2008). Furthermore, the present paper attempts to answer the ultimate question put forward by Nuyts (2001) about the neutrality and context-dependence of adverbials in general. To answer this obscurity, the present research corresponds with the notion of neutrality at some points but not as an absolute nature of subjuncts. In respect of other related functions, the subjuncts also contribute to the cohesion or referential agreement in the texts. Hence, subjuncts are considered as one adverbial category, but individual semantic realizations are also feasible based on the research genre.

Concerning pedagogical implications, the present research suggests several ways to apply the theoretical findings into practice for teaching and learning in SHS-level courses. Precisely, the possible applications are based on the specific curriculum objectives in English for Academic and Professional Purposes and Qualitative / Quantitative Research (DepEd, 2013) in this paper. The present findings are beneficial in producing learning materials such as corpus-based modules and even curriculum reform to highlight different learning processes such as understanding, reflecting, and evaluating.

Consequently, the deviations in the use of adverbials, syntactically and semantically, lead to a better understanding of adverbial subjunct’s notion of linguistic freedom in the context of Philippine English (Borlongan, 2016; Gonzalez, 1976; Martin, 2004; Tatel, 2019; Tupas, 2004). Therefore, this present research can be a steppingstone to the investigation of adverbialization or adverbial grammaticalization in the genre of academic writing using Philippine English (McManus, 2012; Stoffels, 2013).

Keywords: Corpus Linguistics, adverbials, subjuncts, academic writing, linguistic features

Abstract Format





English language—Adverbials; English language—Prepositional phrases; English language—Study and teaching—Filipino speakers

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