The present study explores the subjunctive mood production of 29 heritage speakers (HSs) of Spanish (17 advanced proficiency and 12 intermediate proficiency) and 14 Spanish-dominant controls (SDCs). All participants completed a Contextualized Elicited Production Task (CEPT), which tested their oral production of both lexically-selected (intensional) and contextually-selected (polarity) mood morphology in Spanish. Between-group analyses of the CEPT reveal that the HSs diverge significantly from the SDCs in subjunctive production, specifically by underproducing, overproducing, and avoiding subjunctive mood morphology. Despite these differences, however, the HSs still exhibited sensitivity to mood, producing significantly more subjunctive mood in expected subjunctive contexts than in expected indicative contexts. Based on HSs’ knowledge of the subjunctive, which both resembles and also diverges from that of the SDCs, it is argued that categorizing HSs as having either acquired or not acquired mood in Spanish is descriptively and conceptually problematic.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2019, The Regents of the University of California. This article first appeared in The Heritage Language Journal 16:1 (2019), 44-70.

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.