Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 355–376 | Cite as

Referential and Non-referential Uses of the Third Person Pronominal Subject in Spanish

  • Marcos García Salido


This paper studies the role of two different types of motivation that have been proposed to explain the use of subject personal pronouns in Spanish, namely their function as indications for the addressee to identify the subject’s referent, and their suitability for expressing informational values such as contrastiveness or focus. This study focuses exclusively on third-person forms and relies on conversational data. The distribution of third-person pronouns is analysed combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. It will be argued that the informational and referential properties of subject personal pronouns are by themselves insufficient to account for their expression, their occurrence depending crucially on their activation through the previous use of units of the same type.


Pronominal subjects in Spanish Referential continuity Focus Contrast Priming 



This research has been partially funded by a postdoctoral grant (Xunta de Galicia POS-A/2013/191).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Languages and Literatures, LyS Research Team, Faculty of PhilologyUniversidade da CoruñaA CoruñaSpain

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