Construction grammar

Adele Goldberg, Laura Suttle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Construction grammar, or constructionist approaches more generally, emphasize the function of particular constructions as well as their formal properties. Constructions vary in their degree of generality, from words to idioms to more abstract patterns such as argument structure constructions, topicalization, and passive. There is also no division drawn between semantics and pragmatics, as all conventional aspects of constructions are encoded within the constructions themselves; thus constructions can include information about information structure, register, or genre. The majority of constructionist approaches are also usage based, in that they recognize that we retain a great deal of item-specific information. An important desideratum of constructionist approaches is that they interface naturally with what we know about language acquisition, language change, and language typology. In order to capture generalizations within a given language, constructions are related via an inheritance hierarchy, with more abstract, productive constructions being directly related to their more idiomatic instantiations. The functions of particular constructions as well as domain general cognitive and social cognition are appealed in order to capture cross-linguistically valid typological generalizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-477
Number of pages10
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Psychology


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