The second language development of past perfective forms in Spanish


  • Sara Zahler University at Albany, SUNY



L2 acquisition, variation, morphosyntax, preterit, present perfect


Research studies on second language (L2) morphosyntactic variation that include multiple learner course or experience levels often conduct separate statistical analyses of the factors affecting variation, one per learner level, and compare significant constraints and their coefficients across these groups as an indication of L2 development. This method of comparing across multiple regression analyses can lead to the perception of differences across participant groups that may not be statistically significant. Thus, the current study reanalyzes the data from Author (forthcoming), who investigated the development of past perfective form variation by 105 English-speaking L2 learners of Spanish from six course levels. Participants selected between the preterit and PP on a written contextualized task, in which 32 discursive contexts in a narrative were manipulated for four linguistic variables known to affect preterit-PP variation in the Spanish-speaking world: time of action, verb lexical aspect, sequencing, and presence of a temporal adverb. In our analysis, we combined the data from the six distinct Spanish L2 course levels into one model, and included an interaction between course level and each of the linguistic constraints manipulated in the task. We then compared our findings to Author (forthcoming) who conducted separate regression analyses for each course level. Findings indicate that only time of action and sequencing demonstrated significantly different effects across course levels, and that separate regression analyses across learner levels may lead to an overestimation of differences among these levels. 


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How to Cite

Zahler, S. (2023). The second language development of past perfective forms in Spanish. Borealis – An International Journal of Hispanic Linguistics, 12(1), 207–229.