Error analysis is an invaluable source of information to teachers. It provides information on students' errors which in turn helps teachers to correct students' errors and also improves the effectiveness of their teaching. The study of errors by themselves would have been misleading; the study of errors in contrast to the number of correct responses gives a good picture of which items are being mastered and which are not.
One of the main aims of error analysis is to help teachers assess more accurately what remedial work would be necessary for English as a Second Language (ESL) students preparing for an English Language test, so as to help these students avoid the most common errors.
The tense most commonly used was the simple past tense which was followed by the simple present tense. This was largely because most students described some events that had happened in their lives and there were those who wrote stories. These compositions required the use of the simple past tense. The use of the simple present tense could be justifiable as some of the students wrote about themselves, their families, their hobbies and their ambitions. Besides these two tenses all the other tenses were used occasionally and they were often used wrongly.
The Simple Present Tense
Examples of errors in the use of the, simple present tense
Use of the simple present tense for simple past tense
a. to describe past action:
i. He asked me to follow the other workers to work. I do* so,
ii. Yesterday I come* (to) school at 7.15.
iii. After half an hour, we stop* swimming because we are* hungry.
* Denotes an error.
( ) Letters or words within brackets are corrections made by researchers for the purpose of clarity.
The Simple Past Tense
Examples of errors in the use of the simple past tense
Use of the simple past tense for simple present tense
a. to show routine or habit:
i. From my house to school is about 4 km. I went* to school by...