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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



This study aims to investigate the acquisition of verb-noun collocations in Chinese by learners who study Chinese as a foreign language. By conducting a survey, this research attempt to discuss the following issues. 1) Does learners’ acquisition of verb-noun collocations increase with years of learning? 2) Is learners’ acquisition of verb-noun collocations related to the usage frequency of the verbs? 3) Are there any differences between patient objects and non-patient objects in verb-noun collocation acquisitions? 4) Does natural L2 exposure have an impact on collocational competence?

Seven verbs are selected in this study, 看 kan, 开 kai, 做 zuo, 走 zou, 放 fang, 打 da, 带 dai. In order to answer the research questions, a survey which consisted of four parts was conducted. This survey was done in a public university in Massachusetts, USA. In total, 82 Chinese learners have participated in this study, and they were grouped into three instructional levels: Second-Year Chinese learners, Third-Year Chinese learners, and Fourth-Year Chinese learners.

The data in this research show that the use of collocations is related to learners’ language proficiency, and this study has identified a hook-shaped learning curve in the acquisition of verb-noun collocations. In addition, the frequency is significant to the verb-noun acquisition, and the usage frequency of verbs plays a vital role compared to nouns. Furthermore, at all three proficiency levels, learners had a higher accuracy rate with regard to patient objects in verb-noun collocations.

Collocations are problematic for learners who study Chinese as their foreign language; thus, it is essential for instructors to discuss effective teaching methodology for collocations. In this paper, some implications for teaching Chinese verb-noun collocations are provided by the researcher.


First Advisor

Zhijun Wang

Second Advisor

Enhua Zhang

Third Advisor

Enhua Zhang