Bethany Gray


Office:355 Ross
527 Farm House Ln.
Ames IA


Courses I am Teaching

Engl/Ling 219: Introduction to Linguistics
Engl/Ling 437: Grammatical Analysis
Engl 517X: Corpus Linguistics
Engl 527: Discourse Analysis
Engl 537: Corpus Approaches to Grammatical Analysis
Engl 630: Seminar in Applied Linguistics – Corpus Linguistics
Engl 630: Seminar in Applied Linguistics – Corpus Linguistics and Language Teaching


Ph.D. Applied Linguistics, Northern Arizona University
M.A. TESL/Applied Linguistics, Iowa State University
B.A. Linguistics/English, Iowa State University

Research Areas

Corpus linguistics, text analysis, discourse analysis, disciplinary variation in academic writing, English for Academic Purposes, synchronic and diachronic register variation, English grammar and phraseology

About My Teaching

Every human being uses language for a multitude of purposes and in a variety of situations each and every day. And although we may not consciously recognize it, we change our language to meet the communicative needs of each situation. The courses that I teach here at ISU allow me and my students to think critically about these uses of language. The best part of my job is seeing students notice something about language, make connections to their own lives, and then question and analyze language in a principled, systematic way. In my courses, I enjoy helping students develop a set of analytical skills that they can apply to any linguistic phenomenon that they notice, in order to better understand language and human communication based on authentic, empirical evidence.

How I came to Corpus Linguistics and Discourse Analysis

When I came to Iowa State as an undergraduate student from a small rural Iowa town, I knew I wanted to study language. I majored in linguistics, even though I really didn’t know all that much about it. But as I progressed through the degree, I came to realize that linguistics wasn’t just about learning or teaching languages—it’s also about the systematic analysis of language and how we use it to carry out various functions in society. I was introduced to corpus linguistics (using computers to aid in the analysis of very large collections of authentic language data – a corpus), and it provided the methodology that has enabled me to uncover systematic patterns in language use.

Recent Publications


Biber, D., & Gray, B. (2016). Grammatical Complexity in Academic English: Linguistic Change in Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gray, B. (2015). Linguistic Variation in Research Articles: When Discipline Tells Only Part of the Story. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Articles and Chapters

Staples, S., Egbert, J., Biber, D., & Gray, B. (2016). Academic writing development at the university level: phrasal and clausal complexity across level of study, discipline, and genre. Written Communication, 33(2), 149-183.

Gray, B., & Biber, D. (2015). Phraseology. In D. Biber & R. Reppen (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics (pp. 125-145). Cambridge University Press.

Gray, B. (2015). On the complexity of academic writing: Disciplinary variation and structural complexity. In V. Cortes & E. Csomay (eds.), Corpus-based Research in Applied Linguistics. In Honor of Douglas Biber (pp. 49-77). John Benjamins.

Gray, B., & Biber, D. (2015). Stance markers. In K. Aijmer & C. Rühlemann (eds.), Corpus Pragmatics: A Handbook (pp. 219-248). Cambridge University Press.

Biber, D., Gray, B., & Staples, S. (2014). Predicting patterns of grammatical complexity across language exam task types and proficiency levels. Applied Linguistics. [Advance access, available online October 2014]

Gray, B. (2013). More than discipline: uncovering multi-dimensional patterns of variation in academic research articles. Corpora, 8(12). Invited paper to special issue on multi-dimensional analysis.

Gray, B., & Biber, D. (2013). Lexical frames in academic prose and conversation. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 18(4). Invited contribution to special issue on phraseology in honor of Michael Stubbs.

Biber, D., & Gray, B. (2013). Being specific about historical change: The influence of sub-register. Journal of English Linguistics, 41(2), 104-134.

Biber, D., & Gray, B. (2013). Discourse characteristics of writing and speaking task types on the TOEFL iBT: A lexico-grammatical analysis. ETS TOEFL Research Report Series. TOEFL ibT-19.

Biber, D., Gray, B., & Poonpon, K. (2013). Pay attention to the phrasal structures: Going beyond T-units. A response to Weiwei Yang. TESOL Quarterly, 47(1), 192-201.

Current Research

I am currently working on several projects related to the grammar of academic writing. One project (sponsored by the Educational Testing Service) analyzes the development of grammatical complexity over time in speech and writing produced by non-native speakers of English. Another project is an investigation into language use across disciplines, considering the influence of research methodology in how academics present research in written form.

Articles and Repositories: Google Scholar