Tag Archives: Prepositions

Which Preposition? An EFL Dilemma (Published)

EFL students face tremendous difficulties when translating from Arabic to English. One aspect of grammatical constructions that EFL students find difficult to translate is the translation of prepositions. This study aims at investigating the difficulties EFL students face when translating prepositions from Arabic into English. 105 students enrolled in undergraduate Translation courses in the English department, College of Basic Education were given a list of statements and short paragraphs and asked to translate them from Arabic into English. In addition, the students were asked to provide academic information to be statistically evaluated as independent variables. After data was collected and analyzed, it was found that students have considerable difficulty translating prepositions, some more than others.

Keywords: Arabic, EFL, English, Grammar, Prepositions, translation


One predicament facing an educationist is whether grammar should be taught formally, or allowed to be naturally acquired. A protracted case study was carried out on seven Malay students from the International Islamic University Malaysia to determine the extent to which students acquired English prepositions in the naturalistic setting. Data from students’ interviews and presentations were collected initially, and subsequently at six monthly intervals over three years. An analysis of students’ use of prepositions was carried out. Results showed that although errors persist, most subjects showed improvements in their use of prepositions. These findings imply that grammar should be taught in a way that is compatible with the natural processes of acquisition. Language instructors should also be equipped with special skills to be able to teach prepositions. Learners should also be developmentally ready to acquire prepositions, and changes have to be made in the curriculum for instruction of prepositions.

Keywords: ESL Learners, Malay Adult, Prepositions