Grammar Guru: I’m lovin’ it!

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Is this ‘good’ or ‘bad’ English? Do you use it? If so, where and when and how? Do you think it’s ok if others use it?

McDonalds. Ad. On my blog. I know. Sorry. But hey.

I defended a traditional point of view here. Don’t miss Mike’s comment.


10 Responses

  1. I suppose if you decided to write a “grammar guru”entry about it it means there is a problem with “I’m loving it”? I don’t know why, to me it means “I love it and right now I’m enjoying it” all together. Am I wrong? I’m going to see the link you refered to!

  2. Hi Anne,

    A good question. Your showing this ad is forgiven. It’s definitely ‘food for thought’ rather than nourishment 😉

    Often we teachers avoid ever making reference to things that our learners are exposed to every day because they are ‘inexplicable’ and go against any kind of language rules printed in the coursebook/grammar book students are using.

    This is a shame. Right or wrong, the McDonalds brand, recognised worldwide for their particular standard, is using this phrase – and doesn’t it fit in with their company image ?

    A clever ad.

    Perhaps some real linguists are behind it. They know all about Ebonics (in your link above) and know their target and potential markets.

    I think their overall aim is to gain awareness: to appeal or disgust. To get a reaction – whatever it is. Bring McDonalds into your mind.

    And here we are, talking about the language they’ve used. They’ve achieved their objective!

    As regards, the language, I agree with the ‘traditional’ view. It is incorrect. My colleagues and friends would frown if they heard it from me. I think my students would gaze puzzledly at me if I used it in class. It won’t get a mention in any English language coursebook.

    The problem of how to answer students’ questions on this and other similar ‘irregularities’ remains for teachers.

    If a teacher says, “it’s incorrect” does that distance the teacher from the students in age and culture as the teacher demonstrates s/he is far from the culture they are attracted to, the culture they are integratively motivated towards.

    Or does the teacher accept it and accept its use? It’s in the ad, so it must be right.

    Before choosing either route, a good deal of research into when and how this language is normally used, and by whom, is vital. There are expressions in use by native speakers of a particular cultural niche that would be totally unacceptable for ‘outsiders’ to use, even other native speakers of the same language. So where does one go to find out?

    And is it worth it? With all the other planning and preparation a teacher has to do…. then there’s the family, the this and the that…

    Anne, why don’t you write to McDonalds! Ask them to provide us with an answer!



  3. It depends how you understand the word “love.” McDonalds is using it as an activity almost, like enjoy, so then one has to say, okay. But students always remind me of it when I say there are some words that don’t use the present progressive such as love, like, and prefer. Even though I can explain it’s justification, and I know it happens in colloquial English, it has not risen to the level of something I consider “good” English, pace the “21st Century Flux” video on YouTube.

  4. I guess it comes down to what you mean by “good” and “bad”.
    It might not be what someone teaches in a formal approach but a lot of people speak like this.
    Mark’s point seems pretty spot on.
    But… if leaving your dirty socks on the floor was bad then giving Mcdonalds air time on your blog is wicked.
    Even with an apology as introduction . 🙂
    I hope his loving it is temporary until he tastes something good!!

  5. Andy Warhol Eats a Hamburger.
    Don’t think he’s lovin’ it, though.
    Lovin’ looks different 😉

    In the link I gave, Mike said that the German translation “Ich liebe es” got it wrong; it’s more about enjoyment, like Alice + Mark said, so perhaps “Genieße es!” would have been the better claim.
    The heads behind the 2003 ad, by the way, were the MUNICH ad agency compare
    Chris, what do you make of Andy Warhol’s video?

  6. @Chris(tina),
    Exactly, I’m with you. But maybe we’re just promoting a homogenized brand of “teachers’ English”. Note that McDonalds published their ad in 2003. And guess how Martin Hewings “Advanced Grammar in Use” Second Edition (2005/9) introduces Unit 1 on the present simple and present continuous, p.2:

    “We can use the present simple with some state verbs (e.g. attract, like, look, love, sound) when we want to emphasise a situation is temporary or for a period of time around the present. Compare:
    * Jean stays with us quite often. The children love having her here.
    * Jean’s staying with us at the moment. The children are loving having her here.
    State verbs which we rarely use with the present continuous include believe, consist of, doubt, own.”

    So some verbs I certainly didn’t use in the continuous when I lived in Washington (up to the early 1980s), now can be.

  7. Final poll count for “I’m lovin’ it!”:

    * This is bad English (73%, 8 votes)
    * This English is fine for other people to use (27%, 3 votes)
    * This English is good enough for me (0%, 0 votes)

  8. Grammar Girl’s got a nice podcast on “I’m lovin’ it”:
    Stative verbs:
    1. thought and opinion
    2. possession
    3. love, need
    4. senses (can be both stative and dynamic)
    Since this idiomatic use sounds slightly off, it attracts attention. Iffy phrases catch on. It’s becoming more acceptable, but ESL teachers should advise against using it.

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