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Grammaticalization is a diachronic process by which grammatical items arise from constructions with lexical items.


The Romance synthetic future (e.g. Spanish cantará 'will sing') was grammaticalized from a periphrastic construction consisiting of infinitive + 'have' (Latin cantare habet > cantar ha > cantará).


  • grammaticization (used especially by Joan Bybee and her colleagues)
  • agglutination (this term was used for grammaticalization in the 19th century)


  • "Grammaticalization consists in the increase of the range of a morpheme advancing from a lexical to a grammatical or from a less grammatical to a more grammatical status, e.g. from a derivative formant to an inflectional one." (Kurylowicz 1965 [1975]: 52)


The term was apparently first used by Meillet (1912).


  • Kurylowicz, Jerzy. (1965) "The evolution of grammatical categories". Diogenes 51:55-71. (Reprinted in: Esquisses linguistiques II. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 38-54, 1975)
  • Meillet, Antoine. (1921 [1912]) "L'évolution des formes grammaticales". In: Linguistique historique et linguistique générale (ed. Édouard Champion). Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 130-148.