In this article, I assess three distinct functionalist approaches to grammatical status and discuss their commonalities as well as their differences. Fundamental to all analyzed proposals is the strict distinction between the expression and content side of the linguistic sign and the view that the functional properties of linguistic elements are primary in defining grammar. Some models work with deictic properties unique to grammatical elements, whereas others focus on the discursive behaviour of grams. The one point of convergence between these diverging proposals is, as I will argue, their reliance on the obligatoriness of grammatical structures. Furthermore, I compare how the individual models deal with the concept of gradable grammaticality and on what grounds, if at all, they discern different degrees of grammaticality.