It is very common to avoid using verbs such as 'want' and 'understand' with an -ing form. But l came across the following constructions:

  • I'm 'understanding' French a lot better now.

  • How many eggs were you 'wanting'?

My question is: is it correct to use the above-mentioned forms? If YES, why?


Yes, it's correct in American English.

Why? This is usually a bad question to ask. The answer is usually because or because it is.

First of all, the "rule" or even tendancy that you cite regarding the use (or non-use) of stative verbs in the -ing form is not an all-encompassing one. There is probably no stative verb in English that cannot be used in the -ing form given the proper context. To restate that, native speakers of (American) English use stative verbs in the -ing form all the time. We just don't use all stative verbs in the -ing form all the time, in the same way, in identical contexts. The two verbs you have given are acceptable uses in the given contexts.

Even the most stative of all verbs, to be, can be used in the -ing form, as in

Look at Andy; he's being (is being) so nice to Amos right now.

Of course, speakers of Indian English use stative verbs in -ing forms a lot more often and in more contexts than do native speakers of American English.

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