Mood choice in complements of Spanish comprender and Portuguese compreender (‘understand’) – distribution and meaning
The present paper analyzes the occurrence of indicative and subjunctive complements of the verbs comprender (Spanish) and compreender (Portuguese) in European Spanish and European Portuguese. A quantitative analysis based on 400 occurrences of the complements randomly selected from the newspaper genre shows that the indicative mood occurs more frequently than the subjunctive mood in both languages, although the subjunctive mood is more frequent in the Portuguese corpus than in the Spanish one. The analysis also shows that the occurrence of the subjunctive complement is highly restricted to contexts in which the subject of the main clause verb is either 1st person or 3rd person singular. From the theoretical perspective of Cognitive Grammar, the mood alternation is explained by the concept of dominion, i.e. the indicative complement designates an event that is located within the conceptualizer’s epistemic dominion, whereas the subjunctive complement designates an event that is located outside the conceptualizer’s dominion of effective control.