Near-synonyms are semantically similar words, but they are not always interchangeable, having a variety of collocational and semantic behaviours. Tertiary level EFL learners’ use of near synonyms demonstrates significant differences in terms of word choices. This article investigates (1) the level of semantic prosodic (SP) awareness in EFL learners, (2) the correlation between their SP awareness and English proficiency levels, (3) the ways EFL learners use semantic prosodic features in their speech and written productions and how they cope with challenges in SP and (4) the factors affecting their SP knowledge. The data were analysed quantitively and qualitatively. A proficiency test, a semantic prosody test, an open-ended questionnaire and a structured interview were used respectively. The findings reveal that learners’ SP knowledge correlates with language proficiency, but their awareness levels have little to do with the proficiency. One implication for the curriculum developers is that they should consider including relevant content related to the semantic prosody in syllabi so that the students will be able to create semantically relevant sentences like their native counterparts.