Hello everybody,

I'm doing some research for my final paper at university, and I'm not a native speaker of English, so I'd really appreciate your help!

According to the Vendlerian verb classes (or categories) English state verbs normally don't have a progressive form. However, some do appear in the progressive (i.e., "he's being stupid")

So, which state verbs come to your mind that sometimes appear in a progressive form? And could you please also give a short context/situation for when this happens?

One example we came across in class was the advertisement phrase "I'm loving it". What do you feel as a native speaker when you hear this? Does it feel odd to you? Or does it actually have a specific meaning?
Are there similar examples in other advertisements?

Well, that's quite much I'd like to know, but I'd be happy about any little contribution, even if you just dropped me an example phrase!
It seems to me that the use of the non-progressives in the progressive tenses amounts to changing the meaning of the verb, whether greatly or slightly.

I'm loving it = I'm (really) enjoying it. I'm (really) relishing it.
I'm liking it (similar)
I'm being bad = I'm behaving badly. Compared to my normal behavior, I'm acting badly now.
I'm seeing someone regularly = I'm dating someone regularly.
I'm understanding it = I'm beginning to understand it.
I'm remembering what he said = [ I'm slowly beginning / I'm trying ] to remember what he said.
I'm thinking that [he might be / he's] deaf = It's (slowly) beginning to occur to me that he is deaf. / I'm offering deafness as a possible but uncertain explanation for something.
It's feeling cold out = ? It's beginning to feel cold. It may be cold. (Indicates some uncertainty perhaps?)
He's looking awful these days = Compared to his normal looks as observed previously, his appearance is now awful.
I'm sensing that not everybody at this meeting is happy about the new rules = I'm beginning to realize that not everybody ... I have an uncertain, subtle, weak, or impressionistic feeling that not everybody ... (Something tentative is indicated.)
It's smelling good in the kitchen = It's starting to smell good ...

It isn't mattering to me = ???

Not used as far as I know:

I'm knowing it.
It's seeming to rain every day lately.
The book is consisting of fifty-three chapters.
The book is belonging to me.
Who is deserving the prize?
The mixture is containing sulfur and nitrogen.
California is lying just to the west of Nevada.

It seems to me that many such cases add a flavor of entering a state (perhaps tentatively) or of being different from a previous state, but this is by no means true of all cases.


Thanks so much for this list! Emotion: smile

And I guess you're right - There seem to be some "rules" how the progressive changes the meaning of non-progressives, (and also exceptions from these rules...) :

So there seem to be
- entering a state,
- entering a state, including some uncertainty
- emphasizing a state
- expressing a temporary state

So far there's only one exception, "I'm seeing someone", where the meaning really has changed.
Well, or does it maybe just emphasize the situation, i.e. meaning more or less that "I SEE this person REALLY often"...? Does "see" (I mean, when used as a non-progressive) have any connotation of dating or having a boy/girlfriend at all?

Btw, what did you mean with:

"It isn't mattering to me = ???"

Do people really say this, or were you just not sure about its actual meaning?

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I would say no, the non-progressive tenses of "see" do not connote an amorous relationship.

The ??? meant that I feel there's a way to contextualize this remark, but I don't know how to paraphrase it! It would be very rare, I'm guessing, for anyone to say this, but I seem to be able to assign some sort of sensible meaning to it.

Maybe in a case of contrast?

A. Doesn't it matter to you that you're ruining your teeth by eating all that candy?
B. (eating candy at the time, and obviously greatly enjoying it) No! It isn't mattering to me!

Also a case of contrast:

Proper etiquette matters a great deal to his mother-in-law, but I can see by his rude behavior toward her right this moment that it isn't mattering to him in the slightest!

Such uses are, it goes without saying, very far toward the non-standard use of a non-progressive verb.

i also have a question... in this sentence... "Now you can understand why, Gandlaf, listening to their groqling and yelping, began to be dreadfully afraid..."

is 'understand' a state verb in this context?

is 'began' a state verb?

or would 'be' be the first state verb in this sentence?
Often when a nonprogressive verb is being used with progressive aspect, the meaning is different. It's as if verb is actually a different word. The example given above "seeing someone" is a great example, as "see" in this sense doesn't mean "look at". Another good example is "having a baby", which doesn't mean the same thing as "possess" in the standard sense.

What's happening here is that old words are merely being recycled.
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State verbs as you correctly say are not usually used in the progressive. It is possible however to do so in some cases. This, however, can change the meaning. The English language is constantly developing and evolving and previous unaccepted usage of the language has become 'accepted'. McDonalds are almost solely responsible for the stae verb 'love' being used in the progressive. Because of their global audience and influence it has now annoyingly found its way into everyday usage, eg, I'm loving this hamburger!!

'Have' when it implies possesion is used as a state verb,eg, I have a blue pen. But when 'have' is used for activities it can be used like an ordinary verb, eg, I'm having a shower, I'm having breakfast. Similarly, the verb 'think' is a state verb when used as opinion, eg, I think you're right, but when used as a mental activity it can be used in the progressive,eg, I'm thinking about my family.

Another example would be the verb 'see', normally used in the simple form,eg, I see a man outside in the street. 'I'm seeing my friends later' is correct usage but alters the meaning, and now means 'I am meeting my friends later'.

Anyway, misuse of state verbs is a as ordinary verbs is a source of great annoyance for me. McDonalds are now responsible for both bad food and bad English!! As a teacher of English as a foreign language I wish they would restrict themselves to influencing my students' diets but not their use of good English.

hello badfan,

personally I feel that the phrase 'I'm loving it' sounds odd in British English but it feels like a kind of American street slang. It's also used in Estelle's song 'American Boy' when she says, 'I'm loving this American boy.' I think it's quite trendy amongst certain groups of people.

Hope this is of use to you.

Ruth x