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The development of the Old English content verb willan (want) into the modern English clitic -'ll (which cannot take stress, unlike its uncontracted form) as in "the woman I saw yesterday'll be there again today" is an example of grammaticalization.

Alternative forms[edit]


Back-formation from grammaticalization.


grammaticalize (third-person singular simple present grammaticalizes, present participle grammaticalizing, simple past and past participle grammaticalized)

  1. (transitive) To make grammatical.
    • 1999, Rod Ellis, Learning a Second Language through Interaction, John Benjamins Publishing (→ISBN), page 174:
      Enhanced output arises when learners grammaticalize their output either through the use of more advanced interlanguage forms or of target language forms.
    • 2001, Eli Hinkel, Sandra Fotos, New Perspectives on Grammar Teaching in Second Language Classrooms, Routledge (→ISBN), page 23:
      It is only later that learners begin to grammaticalize their speech. According to N. Ellis (1996), they do this by extracting rules from the items they have learned—bootstrapping their way to grammar.
  2. (linguistics, transitive) To integrate into a system of grammar; to make (something such as a constraint) an element or rule of grammar, to cause (something) to be required by grammar.
    • 1993, North Eastern Linguistic Society. Meeting, Proceedings of NELS.
      That is, the cooccurrence restrictions do cross intervening specifications for the same feature. [] In the model, a linguistic constraint against homorganicity (which may grammaticalize constraints on motor programming) is enforced on pairs []
    • 2003, George Melville Bolling, Bernard Bloch, Language:
      ... Udmurt, Turkish, and Yucatec Mayan to test (and critique) the hypothesis that possessives grammaticalize into definite articles.
    • 2014, Brian MacWhinney, William O'Grady, The Handbook of Language Emergence, John Wiley & Sons (→ISBN), page 18:
      For example, some languages grammaticalize the universal preference for definite over indefinite subjects, whereas it remains a soft constraint in others []
  3. (linguistics, transitive) To cause (a word, a suffix, etc) to undergo grammaticalization.
    • 2002, Aleksandra I͡Urʹevna Aĭkhenvalʹd, Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, Aleksandra I︠U︡rʹevna Aĭkhenvalʹd, Language Contact in Amazonia, Oxford University Press on Demand (→ISBN), page 292:
      Similarly to other classifier languages in South America and elsewhere, a number of nouns grammaticalize as classifiers and are also used as derivational suffixes, e.g. *-maka 'stretch (of cloth)' (from *maka “hammock'), []
    • 2005, Laurel J. Brinton, Elizabeth Closs Traugott, Lexicalization and Language Change, Cambridge University Press (→ISBN), page 109:
      Items that grammaticalize become more productive in the sense that the grammaticalizing element occurs with increasingly large numebrs of categories. [] Clearly, lexicalization is far less constrained by various types of linguistic processes than grammaticalization is.
    • 2017, Kees Hengeveld, Heiko Narrog, Hella Olbertz, The Grammaticalization of Tense, Aspect, Modality and Evidentiality: A Functional Perspective, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG (→ISBN), page 143:
      As participles tend to grammaticalize into modal suffixes in Uralic and other Siberian languages, and not the other way around (Janhunen 1998: 471; Malchukov 2013), it can be assumed that the Proto-Samoyedic suffix *-pso was a participle ...