The present paper is intended to bridge the long-established gap between corpus-based research into actual language use on the one hand and cognitive models of the abstract language system (in terms of speaker’s ‘competence’) on the other. For this purpose, a very useful, non-generative framework is provided by Langacker’s usage-based cognitive grammar. In general, the consideration of corpus data in cognitive grammar leads to an innovative and realistic model of speakers’ linguistic knowledge, i.e. a model which is data-oriented and frequency-based, functionalist and lexicogrammatical in nature. This theoretical from-corpus-to-cognition approach will be illustrated by discussing corpus data on the use of the ditransitive verb GIVE and by sketching out how the data may be included in a truly usage-based model of the lexicogrammar of GIVE.