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DOI: 10.21070/acopen.8.2023.4537

Analyzing 7th Graders' Simple Present Errors in Descriptive Writing

Analisis Kesalahan Dominan Penggunaan Tenses Present Sederhana dalam Teks Deskriptif pada Siswa Kelas Tujuh

Universitas Muhammadiyah Sidoarjo
Universitas Muhammadiyah Sidoarjo

(*) Corresponding Author

Simple Present Tense descriptive texts error analysis seventh grade students qualitative method


This study aims to investigate the dominant errors in the use of the simple present tense by seventh grade students when writing descriptive texts. The qualitative research method was employed, utilizing data analysis techniques to process the collected information. The population consisted of 45 students from two different classes at SMP Muhammadiyah 10, with 37 students' exercise results being analyzed. The data was obtained from students' written compositions in which they employed the simple present tense to describe various subjects. The findings revealed four major error types: omission (46.90%), addition (16.04%), misformation (27.16%), and misordering (9.90%). Among these, omission errors were the most prevalent, comprising 38 errors or 46.90% of the total. The results emphasize the need for targeted instruction and practice to enhance students' mastery of the simple present tense in writing descriptive texts, thereby improving their overall English language proficiency.   Highlights:
  • Error analysis: Identifying and analyzing errors in the use of simple present tense in descriptive texts.
  • Seventh grade students: Evaluating the proficiency of students in using the simple present tense.
  • Qualitative method: Employing a qualitative approach to gather and analyze data on error patterns in descriptive writing.

Keywords: simple present tense, descriptive texts, error analysis, seventh grade students, qualitative method.



Grammar is a description of language and the way in which units such as words and phrases are combined to produce sentences in the given language, according to Richards, Platt, and Weber in Nunan (2005) this interpretation demonstrates the significance of grammar in the construction of sentences, including for students[1]. But grammar rules are still a difficult problem for students or learners learning English. According to Kane (2000), descriptive text is a meaningful text describing experiences related to the looks, such as sounds, and tastes[2]. Most descriptive texts are about visual experiences, but actually experiences other than the sense of sight, we can also use them to create descriptive texts. Descriptive text can also be said to describe something or other people or themselves according to that person's view. Furthermore, according to Ellis (2008) error is a mistake caused by limited knowledge of students and does not know the real answer[3]. Meanwhile, a mistake is an error that occurs because students cannot convey their knowledge properly and correctly. According to Hyland (2003) riting skills, on the other hand, are skills that students need to understand in order to apply complex cognitive and language science knowledge to the writing process[4]. In the context of learning, students usually describe themselves, their families, their favorite animals, their favorite person or idol, important figures, or something around them. Based on the results of observations made by the research, some seventh grade students of SMP Muhammadiyah 10 Sidoarjo have problems related to errors in using the simple present tense in writing descriptive texts. Some errors are made when the students do not understand well about the English grammar. They made errors because they have not been able to use good grammar, they could not interpretation sentences or paragraph directly, they have different cultural backgrounds and many others reason. As for learning, students in Indonesia still find it difficult to learn English according to (Warouw, 2014) that is due to their diverse cultural background, which affects the use of English including generating errors and mistakes[5].


This study used the qualitative research. It means that this study used descriptive method to analyze. This method attempts to solve a problem that exists and has specific characteristics. Lambert and Lambert (2012) claim that qualitative research is an all-inclusive summary of specific events experienced by individuals or groups of individuals, expressed in everyday terms[6]. Furthermore, to analyze the number of errors, the researcher will use the percentage formula as follows (Hadi, 1982) 7 with P = Percentage ,f = Frequency, n = Number of Students and 100 = Constant Value. As a result, the researcher did not use the hypothesis as a short-term solution to the problem[7]. The descriptive qualitative method included data collection, data organization, and data interpretation. Therefore, this method is used to find out the errors and the dominant error in using simple present tense in writing descriptive text by seventh grade students.

Findings and Discussion

From the result of data analysis, it was found that the students made 38 grammatical error of using simple present tense in writing descriptive text in omission, 21 errors of misformation, 13 errors of addition and 8 errors of misordering. Omission happened because most of them not add "s" or "es" after using the third person singular (she, he, and it), according to Brown in 2000 this can be attributed to language transfer or the influence of the student's mother tongue[8]. According to Krashen (2012) missing errors are indicated by the absence of an item that should appear in a well-crafted speech. Although every morpheme or word in a sentence has the potential to be omitted, some types or morphemes are omitted more than others[9]. Like in the sentence “She look beautiful” instead “She looks beautiful” then in the other sentence “She like to eat very much” instead “She likes to eat very much” and in the sentence “My father work in hospital” instead “My father works in hospital”. Also, the students did not know that to be before writing nouns and adjectives. In this sentence that can see “He always busy with his job” instead “He is always busy with his job” then in the other sentence “His hobby watch football” instead “His hobby is watch football” and in the sentence “Her personality fun” instead “Her personality is fun”. Moreover, the students did not put the articles (a, an, and the) before the noun or adjective like in the sentence “He has a cold an mysterious” instead “He has a cold a mysterious” and in the sentence “He is make joke” instead “He is make a joke”and many more. Furthermore, this finding is similar to Tuty Hendriyani's 2016 research, which found that omission errors had the dominant errors made by students based on the surface strategy taxonomy, with 69 errors or 58.33%[10].

Then, in addition error most of the errors were double marks that students added to the sentence, and they also used double auxiliary verbs in the sentence. In addition, errors were made where students put the ending –ing in the end of verbs that called regularization, and errors occurred when the students added s or es to the verbs, or adjectives. Moreover, students also make mistakes by adding letters or words that not suitable in writing. According to James (2013) the phenomenon was known as false analogy[11]. The students made double marking error in their writing like “She is like cooking” instead “She likes cooking” or in other sentence “She is has favorite animal” instead “She has favorite animal” in other sentence the students put the ending –ing like “She always reading a book for me” instead “She always reads a book for me” and other example of errors in added s or es to the verbs is like “He is a handsome boys” instead “He is a handsome boy”, in other sentence “I’am big fans” instead “I’am big fan”. Furthermore, the same error was discovered in Herawati's 2019 research, where students added to be in their sentences when the verb was already present. As an example, “Nissa sabyan like singing” instead of “Nissa sabyan is like singing” and also in other sentence “She also plays in badminton” instead “She also plays badminton”[12].

Misformation errors were discovered in 22 sentences. There are 18 errors in alternating form in the use of to be also 4 other verbal errors at all of these sentences. Also, misformation is using the wrong forms in a sentence. According to Soetikno (1996) due to their misunderstanding of the language when using some forms[13]. Students actually put the correct auxiliary verb that corresponds to the subject in 13 archi misspellings of auxiliary verbs. They generalize whether the auxiliary is plural or singular. They might, for example, write “We were like sister” instead “We are like sister”, or in other sentence “He have short hair” instead “He has short hair”.

While all errors were in misordering are the error were in the wrong word placement. This finding is in line with the findings of Sahal’s research, who discovered that the error of omission category had 56 or 62.92 percent, the error of addition category had 12 or 13.48 percent, the misformation category had 18 errors, and the missordering category had 3 errors[14].

No Types of Errors Score of Error Percentage
1 Omission 38 46,90 %
2 Addition 13 16,04 %
3 Misformation 22 27,16 %
4 Misordering 8 9,90 %
Total 81 100 %
Table 1.Percentage Based on Type of Errors

Based on findings, the dominant error made by students of using simple present tense in writing descriptive text is omission where 46,90% of students made error. And there is a 16.04 % addition error, in the misformation category is 27.16 % of students made an error, and in the misordering category is 9.90 % of students made an error and it is possible to conclude that all of the errors made by the students are difficult to understand due to differences between the first and second languages. Because the structure of their first language and a new language were so dissimilar, they frequently struggled to apply the rules of English structure. According to Dulay et al. (1982) , where the structure of the first language differed from that of the second language, errors reflecting the structure of the first language would be produced[15].


Based on the data of analysis and discussion, it could be concluded that students' error of using simple present tense in writing descriptive text frequently contains four types of errors: omission, addition, misformation, and misordering. Each type had an error percentage of 38 or 46,90 % omission, 13 or 16,04% addition, 22 or 27,16 % misformation, and 9 or 9,90 % misordering. And the dominant error made by seventh grade students was omission, with 38 errors and percentage of 46,90 %. Followed by error of misfomation, with a percentage of 27,16 %, addition with a percentage of 16,04 %, misordering with a percentage of 9,90 % and it is possible to conclude that seventh grade students in contributed the simple present tense errors, which were mostly in omission. It happened as a result of their difficulties with the suffix es/s and to be. In addition, misformation, and misordering errors were discovered in students' writing. All errors can be attributed to characteristics of the target language that are difficult for students to comprehend due to differences between the first and second languages. Students are expected to study more consistently in order to be able to use the simple present tense, particularly now that schools have returned to normalcy following the pandemic.


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