As an explicitly usage-based model of language structure (Barlow & Kemmer, 2000), cognitive grammar draws on the notion of ‘usage events’ of language as the starting point from which linguistic units are schematized by language users. To be true to this claim for spoken languages, phenomena such as non-lexical sounds, intonation patterns, and certain uses of gesture should be taken into account to the degree to which they constitute the phonological pole of signs, paired in entrenched ways with conceptual content. Following through on this view of usage events also means realizing the gradable nature of signs. In addition, taking linguistic meaning as consisting of not only conceptual content but also a particular way of construing that content (Langacker, 2008, p. 43), we find that the forms of expression mentioned above play a prominent role in highlighting the ways in which speakers construe what they are talking about, in terms of different degrees of specificity, focusing, prominence, and perspective. Viewed in this way, usage events of spoken language are quite different in nature from those of written language, a point which highlights the need for differentiated accounts of the grammar of these two forms of expression taken by many languages.