In the area of syntax, the notion of abstraction has been employed differently in the two major theoretical approaches of functionalist and formalist models. From the functional perspective, a typologically adequate linguistic model needs to look at universals without imposing too much abstraction on principles or representation. In contrast, the formalist model has been characterized by its tendency towards stating language universals in terms of abstract structures and principles. This paper argues that while these two traditionally opposing tendencies remain true, the difference between the functionalist and formalist models is the degree of abstraction, not a dichotomy of presence and absence of such a property. Functionalists also rely on a certain degree of abstraction in describing language depending on various functional-cognitive models within this approach. This paper also shows that the direction of Spanish functional syntax has been diverse and rich, employing a varying degree of abstraction of representation of language. The prediction for the future of the functionalist and formalist models is their eventual realignment, a process that may compromise their respective meaning-centered and the formcentered positions.