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As a BrE. speaker, there are come constructions using verbs in their present continuous form which just sound wrong. The best example being, "I am loving Stack Exchange."

After reading around the internet, all the information I can find seems to be addressing the difference in usage and meaning between -ing and infinitives such as "he went on to sing the National Anthem" and "he went on singing..."

Is there a rule as to which verbs can or should be used in a continuous form "I am drinking tea" and those which shouldn't, "I am loving this tea so much right now*"

Thanks

*In a thick Californian accent!

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  • "I am loving Stack Exchange." is idiomatic in the UK under certain circumstances. "I've recently discovered some websites dedicated to the correct use of English. I'm finding 'Beyond CaGEL' very informative, and I'm really loving 'ELU Stack Exchange'." However, without such context, using the continuous form sounds unnatural. "I love SE." The use of the continuous with stative verbs can be totally unacceptable: *"I am owning a bike." Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 7:46

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Some points on the "I am loving it" usage from an article by Bonnie Mills / Mignon Fogarty:

  • 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.

  • But, now we come to some idiomatic uses of stative verbs. You can conjugate certain stative verbs in a progressive tense in the right context. I can easily imagine one lady saying to another, “Hey, Jean. I’m loving that new haircut!” On the other hand, it wouldn’t sound right to say, “I’m loving my mother.” You’d say, “I love my mother.” Another example might be the verb “to hear.” This is considered a stative verb, yet native speakers will be familiar with the statement “I’m hearin’ ya” to mean “I understand your point of view.” However, no native speaker would say, “I’m hearing the concert.”

So:

  • “I’m loving it” does sound slightly off, and that draws attention. Perhaps that’s why McDonald’s chose it for their slogan, which launched in September 2003 . None of the dictionaries I checked sanction "loving" as a form of the verb "love," but the McDonald's slogan isn't the only instance where this sentence has been used in popular culture. Justin Timberlake has a 2003 song called “I’m Loving It” , and earlier the Scorpions put out a song called “Still Loving You”, which contains the lyric “I’m loving you.” Just recently, glamour.com had this to say about a maternity dress: “I’m loving the hot hue, the sweet, off-the-shoulder neckline …” The article’s headline was “Loving Her Look: Amy Adams Redefines The Maternity Dress”
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    Another idiom that has become so ingrained it sounds natural is "... and loving every minute of it." Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 7:42
  • Fine answer. I'm not going to look for duplicates, which almost certainly exist but equally probably have less balanced answers. // The one change I'd have liked the author to make is to have put scare quotes round 'the rule'. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 7:56

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