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How normal-sounding is the slogan "I'm lovin' it" to native ears?

I know it sounded quite odd to me when I first heard it — and it still sometimes does —, but I can't even tell why. Sure, love is supposedly a stative verb, but it's being used in progressive aspect all the time without sounding weird at all (lots of songs come to mind, e.g. Loving Every Minute). It's only this particular slogan that somehow doesn't quite work for me. I would expect that to be totally on purpose — it's advertising, after all —, but Wikipedia doesn't mention any objections from native speakers (as it does with "Think Different" and "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should"). So I'm asking the native speakers of this community: does "I'm lovin' it" sound completely natural to you? Just a bit off? Completely weird? Why?

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I think the reason they used "I'm lovin' it" instead of, for example, "I love it", is that "I'm lovin' it" implies an ongoing, involved sensation, whereas "I love it" is actually sort of awkward in this situation. The point of marketing is not to be general, it's to involve the audience. And in my experience, when people say "I'm loving", they're implying that they feel very much involved in whatever they find themselves loving at that moment. –  Jon Purdy Dec 10 '10 at 23:10
@Jon: Supporting your point, I think the following is completely reasonable to say: "I don't generally like McDonald's fries, but for some reason I'm loving these fries right now." –  Kosmonaut Dec 11 '10 at 18:31
I am not qualified to answer, but this phrase was the subject of an entire episode of Grammar Girl: "According to the rule, “I’m loving it” is not grammatically correct because it uses a stative verb—in this case, one that conveys emotion, love—in a progressive tense." and "“I’m loving it” does sound slightly off, and that draws attention. Perhaps that’s why McDonald’s chose it". To native speakers that know grammar it should sound weird (?) –  Peter Mortensen Dec 12 '10 at 9:12
@Peter: From what I've seen, Grammar Girl is not very reliable. –  ShreevatsaR Dec 13 '10 at 3:27
Despite all its shortcomings, "I'm lovin' it" did much better in focus group tests than "I'm dyin' from it." –  Sven Yargs Jul 21 at 9:30

8 Answers 8

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It sounds fine to me. (But I'm not actually a native speaker, and Indian English does have a reputation for using the progressive a lot.)

This is how I interpret "I'm loving it". (I've put back the 'g' because writing lovin' is too folksy for me.) I also assume "it" refers to something particular, like McDonald's or the food there. Also, I think it helps to consider the analogous sentence "I'm enjoying it".

English certainly uses stative: I love chocolate, or I enjoy classical music. This expresses your position on something. But suppose I'm at a play/concert/movie, and someone asks me what I feel, during the event. I may say "I'm enjoying it" or "I'm loving it (at this moment / so far)". This seems perfectly natural to me, though perhaps not to native speakers everywhere.

There's also a difference between "I love it" and "I'm loving it". If you love chocolate, it only says what you feel when the issue of chocolate comes up, but if you are loving McDonald's, it implies that you're there right now and/or are actively engaged in thinking about it and loving it. (Just as "I'm enjoying classical music [right now]" means more than "I enjoy classical music".) Presumably, "I'm loving it" is a subtle suggestion that you too, like the speaker of the slogan, ought to be at McDonald's right now and actually get on with the act of loving it, not merely think of it as a nice place to visit from time to time. :-)

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I am a native speaker, and find nothing objectionable (grammatically, at least) about this slogan. –  Marthaª Dec 10 '10 at 20:39

Since there have been no other similar answers so far: I am a native English speaker and it sounds perfectly natural to me. Cheesy, but natural in terms of grammar.

EDIT: @Martha expressed the same sentiment, but as a comment rather than an answer. If I had seen that, I would have left a comment as well. It amounts to more or less the same thing though.

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No worries - I posted my opinion as a comment mostly out of laziness. :) –  Marthaª Dec 11 '10 at 7:16

It does sound a bit odd, but it implies that you love some experience that continues over a passage of time, rather than an explicit thing. "I love the McDonald's cheeseburger" is something you can say while you are not presently eating one, and you are expressing love for an object. "I'm loving the McDonald's cheeseburger" implies that you are currently eating one and you are feeling this "love" throughout the experience.

It might be McDonald's way of marketing themselves as offering an experience in addition to selling food.

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Great observation. –  Kosmonaut Dec 11 '10 at 18:32
Thanks for saying in better words what I seem to have obscured in my answer! –  ShreevatsaR Dec 11 '10 at 19:11

It is a very common expression. Nowadays it's not at the bleeding edge of hipness (really, it never was) and the McDonald's campaign slogan has made it rather impossible for a person of intelligence to use sans irony. It is a bland and inoffensive attempt at pastel folksiness, the sort of thing that a minor politician or Boy Scout leader or pastor would say if trying to flirt with the edges of propriety.

Really, it is noting more than a blunted trope: a dog humping the leg of vernacular expression.

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Apparently I found this expression in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Valley of Fear. Here an official detective – Alec MacDonald, a Scotchman – uses it while describing his joy at listening to Sherlock Holmes. The lines are as follows:

"Ay, that's remarkable," said the inspector thoughtfully. "Talk away, Mr. Holmes. I'm just loving it. It's fine!"

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It sounds naff and gives off the impression of being grammatically incorrect, regardless of whether it actually is.

Firstly there are the two abbreviations and the use of such a short and broad determiner "it", might as well count as a third contraction. So the sentence sounds very terse and somewhat devoid of meaning. Even with context, the question "Loving what exactly?" tends to be in my mind.

The front section I'm lovin', even expanded I am loving, sounds wrong in itself. There are plenty of uses without "it" in current use e.g. "I'm loving this new song". But should it not be "I love"? The attempt to make it progressive with "I am" seems to be what grates, it seems alright when the subject is implied, as in your song title.

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What does "naff" mean? –  nohat Dec 10 '10 at 22:47
@nohat: Possibly a separate question in itself as it is quite interesting, originally Polari. In this sense, corny, unfashionable, etc. –  Orbling Dec 10 '10 at 22:49
...and probably not at all realted to Pinky's "narf!" –  T.E.D. Sep 14 '11 at 19:23

As a native speaker, I can tell you that even thought it should probably sound weird to me, it absolutely does not. However, I can't even read the phrase without hearing "ba da da DA daahhh" in my head.

"Think Different," on the other hand, is nigh upsetting, so I'd say my ears are about tuned like those of the rest of the American folks.

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"...I cant even read the phrase without hearing..." The marketing folks so own you. :-) –  T.E.D. Sep 14 '11 at 19:25

These days (in the USA at least) if you want to sound informal and hip, what "media consultants" will tell you to do is drop your g's from your -ing words. It supposedly makes you sound informal and folksy, in a non-geograpically localized way. Thus you are liable to hear things like that a lot from large corporations (eg: McDonalds) and politicians.

It's sad, really. Downright embarrasin' sometimes.

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