The Spanish mood contrast is a good test case for research on acquiring form-meaning connections in contexts where input is variable and multiple areas of the grammar are implicated (e.g., syntax, semantics, pragmatics). Nevertheless, research on interpretation of this contrast lags and little is known about how individual lexical items and patterns of co-occurrence of adverbial clauses with subjunctive forms influence interpretation. Addressing this void, we compare interpretation of the present subjunctive by native speakers (NSs) and nonnative speakers (NNSs) at three relatively high levels of experience. Participants completed an interpretation task containing clauses with indicative and subjunctive forms paired with one of six adverbial conjunctions, categorized as co-occurring with subjunctive, indicative, or both forms. Our analysis suggests individual lexical items play a role in morphosyntactic variation and that nuanced differences in interpretation exist for NSs and highly advanced NNSs, even on items that prescriptively co-occur with only one form.
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