Professor Sebastian Hoffmann

Sebastian Hoffmann received his doctoral degree from the University of Zurich, where he also worked for several years - first as a research assistant to Prof. Gunnel Tottie and then as a 'Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter'. Before moving to Trier, he spent three years at Lancaster University (UK) as Lecturer in English Linguistics (2006 - 2009). He is currently also a visiting professor at the University of Tampere, Finland (2014 - 2017).

As a dedicated corpus linguist, his research predominantly focuses on the application of usage-based approaches to the study of language. Recent research topics include:

  • syntactic change (e.g. the grammaticalization of complex prepositions)
  • the historical development and present-day use of tag questions in British and American English
  • verb complementation (in particular ditransitive verbs) in British and Indian English
  • corpus linguistic methodology, in particular the methodological and practical issues involved in using Internet-derived data for corpus linguistic analyses 
  • aspects of fixedness (e.g. collocations)

Sebastian Hoffmann is a co-author of BNCweb, a user-friendly web-interface to the British National Corpus. BNCweb can be accessed for free via a server at Lancaster University. The URL for sign-up is

Office hours

Wednesday 9-11

Sign-up is via Stud.IP only. Alternative time-slots can be arranged via email.

Other Interests and Hobbies

One of Sebastian Hoffmann's hobbies is photography and he has documented a number of corpus linguistics conferences.  

Selected Publications


  • Hoffmann, Sebastian, Evert, Stefan, Smith, Nicholas, Lee David YW and Ylva Berglund Prytz. 2008. Corpus Linguistics with BNCweb - a Practical Guide. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. (Sample Chapter 1; see also
  • Hoffmann, Sebastian. 2005. Grammaticalization and English Complex Prepositions. A Corpus-Based Study. London: Routledge.

Edited volumes:

  • Hoffmann, Sebastian, Rayson, Paul and Geoffrey Leech. 2012. English Corpus Linguistics: Looking back, Moving forward. Papers from the 30th International Conference on English Language Research on Computerized Corpora (ICAME 30). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
  • Rayson, Paul, Hoffmann, Sebastian and Geoffrey Leech. 2011. Methodological and Historical Dimensions of Corpus Linguistics. Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English. Vol. 6. Helsinki: eVarieng. Available at

Journal articles:

  • Gabrielatos, Costas, Torgersen, Eivind Nessa, Hoffmann, Sebastian and Susan Fox. 2010. "A Corpus-Based Sociolinguistic Study of Indefinite Article Forms in London English." Journal of English Linguistics, 38(4): 297-334.
  • Hoffmann, Sebastian. 2011. “Interview with Terttu Nevalainen.” Journal of English Linguistics, 39(4): 359-370.
  • Hoffmann, Sebastian. 2007. "Processing Internet-Derived Text - Creating a Corpus of Usenet Messages." Literary and Linguistic Computing 22:2. 151-65.
  • Mukherjee, Joybrato & Sebastian Hoffmann. 2006. "Describing Verb-Complementational Profiles of New Englishes: A Pilot Study of Indian English." English World-Wide 27:2, 147-173.
  • Smith, Nicholas, Hoffmann, Sebastian and Paul Rayson. 2008. “Corpus Tools and Methods, Today and Tomorrow: Incorporating Linguists’ Manual Annotations.” Literary and Linguistic Computing, 23(2): 163-180.
  • Tottie, Gunnel & Sebastian Hoffmann. 2006. "Tag Questions in British and American English." Journal of English Linguistics 34:4. 283-311.
  • Tottie, Gunnel and Sebastian Hoffmann. 2009. “Tag Questions in English – The First Century.” Journal of English Linguistics, 37(2): 130-161.