Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Languages and Cultures

Committee Chair

Alejandro Cuza

Committee Member 1

Lori Czerwionka

Committee Member 2

Nuur Hamad-Zahonero


The present study examines the acquisition of the aspectual values of Spanish clitic se with psychological verbs and physical change of state verbs. Specifically, we examine the inchoative aspect of se with these verbs within an eventive interpretation. Twenty Spanish heritage speakers, twenty English-speaking L2 learners of Spanish, and twenty controls from Mexico completed an elicited production task an acceptability judgement task and a preference task. Results showed a clear advantage of HSs over L2 learners across conditions. Moreover, the target performance of L2 learners increased in the interpretation task as opposed to the production task where their target performance was lower. This suggests a task effect. In general, physical verbs are harder to acquire than psychological verbs because of the aspectual morphological marking in English. Psych verbs in why-questions pose more difficulty for L2 learners but also for HSs. This difficulty may have to do with the low frequency of questions with inchoative se in the input. Another affecting factor might be related to discursive effects. Interrogatives are more marked than declaratives and restricted semantically and pragmatically. Results are also discussed in terms of cross-linguistic influence and the age of onset of bilingualism as affecting factors on the acquisition of the aspectual values of inchoative se.