“I’m lovin’ it!”, or: Why English teachers hate McDonalds.

I remember exactly when McDonalds adopted “I’m loving it!” as their slogan. I was working in Cologne. It must have been in 2001 or 2002. I was just coming home after a long day of teaching stative verbs, you know, the ones you can’t put in the continuous (to be/-ing) form. The verbs that describe:

The use of the senses
  • see
  • smell
  • taste
  • etc.
Communicating and causing reactions
  • agree
  • deny
  • surprise
  • disagree
  • etc…
Random things (those lovely exceptions)
  • belong
  • deserve
  • need
  • include
  • be
  • etc…
Mental and emotional States

Note that “love” is one of these verbs. Yes Ronald, you shouldn’t say “I’m loving it”, and you’re setting a bad example to the whole of the burger eating world by doing so! You could have been our saviour, providing an excellent example of correct grammar usage with: “I love it”, but no, it’s not enough that you destroy our health, you have to ruin the English language too.

Ok, maybe that’s going a tad too far. We’re all friends here, so let’s have a look at when, sometimes, you might, possibly have an excuse to add “-ing” to the end of some of these fine stative verbs, even “love”!

Of course, not all “-ing” endings mean it’s present continuous. It’s sometimes just needed after certain verbs.

  • I like eating burgers
  • I hate waiting for my Fillet o’ Fish
  • I understand being a clown makes you homicidal.

Present continuous needs “-ing” and “to be”, and means something that is going on now, and is temporary and/or changing.

  • Having given up on life this week, I am now exclusively eating fast food.
  • I’m getting fatter and fatter.

So, why would you want to put a generally stative verb into the present continuous? Watch out! these examples demonstrate, like McDonalds, colloquial, non-standard English, the kind your Mother warned you about, and can only be used with certain stative verbs in certain situations.

  • If you’re talking about the future: “I‘m surprising my mother with a party next week.” “I’m seeing my doctor on Monday”
  • For some reason: If you are a preacher in America’s bible belt. “Are you understanding me!”, “I‘m Believing God!”, “Are you feeling me!”
  • If you really, really, really want to make it clear that it is happening right now, and have no regard for standard English grammar. “Yes, I‘m agreeing with you! Can’t you see!”, “I‘m loving my English lessons with Sally“-Ahem!

Ronald Mc D, with his grammatically dubious statement, “I’m loving it!” wants you to believe the the person saying it doesn’t just generally “love” McDonalds, he or she is inside the McDonalds experience right now: is soaking up the amazing atmosphere, is tasting the delicious McDonalds delicacies, is joking with the jovial staff, is admiring the tasteful decor. -I should get sponsorship!- “Man this is amazing! Wow, what an experience! I’m loving it.”

Anyway, that’s it for this week. I’ve made it, and in the school holidays as well -I wonder what we should have for dinner… As always, please leave comments, suggestions, likes, loves, McDonald vouchers below and I’ll see you next week, if not before!

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