[ask] Can i use understand as progressive verb?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by michael_samuel, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. michael_samuel New Member

    English and Indonesian
    Hello guys... i know that understand is a stative verb.. thus u cant use it in a progressive form..

    but, i saw a book with the title "Understanding English Verb"

    does the book contain grammatical error?

    because i think u can use understand in progressive verb if you are making it as a verb, instead of a noun..


    i am understanding --> its wrong right?

    mind for any useful explanation to me guys?
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    "Understanding" in the title "Understanding English Verbs" should be a noun, Michael Samuel. In case you don't already know this, we call such verbs "gerunds".

    I agree with the idea that "understand" is a stative verb that ordinarily isn't used with the progressive: I understand English verbs.

    Sometimes speakers use stative verbs with progressive tenses, but this use is odd, colloquial, and controversial to many. A famous fast-food restaurant uses the slogan "I'm loving it", which is an example of this practice.

    If I were you, I would not use "I am understanding ___" as I learned English. It will be safer for you to use "I understand ___".

    Welcome to the forum, Michael Samuel. :) Please remember to use correct capitalization in your threads. Thank you.
  3. mirx Banned

    Yes, it should read "Understanding English Verbs."

    The use of the verb is correct though.

    "I'm understanding" could also be used, for example after repeated explanations you finally get the idea of something, you can then utter: "Oh, I am understanding now". It is, of course, a lot commoner to use other expressions.
  4. eni8ma

    eni8ma Senior Member

    English - Australia
    I found reports that say that these days, even static verbs are often used in a progressive sense, sometimes to add impact.

    Certainly, I would feel comfortable saying "My French is improving; I'm understanding more of what people say these days.
  5. michael_samuel New Member

    English and Indonesian
    would u mind to give further explanation? cause i can barely get the sense from understanding as a noun in 'understanding english verbs'

    i can get the sense of it, when i think of it as a verb.. :)

    but i know that is grammatically wrong to think of it as a verb..

    actually the title of the book is Understanding English Grammar, after i re-checked it :D

    anyway, based on your explanations about nowadays people tend to use those stative verbs in progressive form..

    but, are those usages grammatically correct? or the opposite?
  6. mirx Banned

    I don't know about that, but it has slightly different connotations than a plain progressive.

    In my example, "I am understanding now", it actually means "after all this, I finally start to understand", which is quite different than "at 3:45 pm I was understanding English grammar".
  7. eni8ma

    eni8ma Senior Member

    English - Australia
    "Understanding English Grammar" is a book written for people who would like to understand English Grammar. As you read and learn what the book says, your understanding increases, so in that sense, you are progressively understanding more as time goes on.
  8. michael_samuel New Member

    English and Indonesian
    thanks for the answer though..

    im waiting for another explanation that might be useful to answer my question :eek:

    but isnt understand a stative verb, therefore u cant say i am progressively understanding to be grammatically correct, so cant 'Understanding English Grammar'

    mind to give further explanation on that? :)
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  9. eni8ma

    eni8ma Senior Member

    English - Australia
    As for "grammatically correct" - what was grammatically correct 100 years ago now sounds a bit quaint, because the language has moved on.

    Dictionaries are only about 150 (or so) years old. Before that, words were spelled any way you pleased.

    Perhaps writing books on grammar is also a more recent activity. Languages are like water - they flow and change. The best you can say is "at this point in time, and in this location" the correct way is ... . After all, English is spelled differently in the US from in England. In the US they say "different than", and in England and Australia "different from".

    Also, the younger generation talks differently from the older - the older generation shudders at the rules they learned being broken, but 100 years from now it will all be different again.
  10. eni8ma

    eni8ma Senior Member

    English - Australia
    I already did - stative verbs are more and more being used in a progressive sense these days. The rules are changing ... The only thing in concrete is statues - people, and languages, move and change.
  11. eni8ma

    eni8ma Senior Member

    English - Australia
    For the purpose of a test, learn what the teacher says, so you can get a good mark. When talking to people in the street, be more liberal. Surely it is also the same in your own language?
  12. michael_samuel New Member

    English and Indonesian
    thanks for the great answers.. but i dont mind to wait for other explanation from others :)

    actually i have a little debate with my friend, as he said "im understanding bla bla bla"

    i uttered my opinion about the understanding thingy.. then he said that he used 'i am understanding' because he saw a book with that the use of understanding in the title..

    and after hours of googling, i could only find that understand is a stative verb and cant be used in a progressive form.. that's why i came to this forum to ask :D
  13. michael_samuel New Member

    English and Indonesian
    Any other opinion?
  14. boozer Senior Member

    Please refer to Owlman's post early in this thread.

    I wholeheartedly agree with him, although I'm going to be even harsher.

    I'm understanding this is an ungrammatical verb form and an example that should not be followed. You might hear people say such stuff but it is best avoided by learners. Unless, of course, we are talking about very advanced learners that are able to play with the language. But even then, you should only restrict its use to very informal situations... or simply when a jocular effect is required, if at all this can be made to sound funny...

    If you were my student and I heard you say I'm understanding you, you would be summarily executed. :D

    As also said by Owlman - in "understanding the English verb" the word understanding is a gerund, not a full verb used in the present continous tense.
  15. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    We can, of course, say I am understanding in the sense of I am an understanding person, but I'd go further and say that there are a few circumstances in which I am understanding, a continuous present of to understand, is perfectly correct and grammatical.

    Eni8ma's example, My French is improving; I'm understanding more of what people say these days, seems to me perfectly normal.

    It means I'm beginning to understand, I've come to understand. It is far from an ordinary continuous present, and I agree with those who have discouraged learners from trying to use it. In Eni8ma's example I understand would probably be more normal.

    English is a very flexible language; natives use a wide variety of forms. Learners would be well advised to avoid exceptional uses like this, until they've become supremely confident in the language.
  16. eni8ma

    eni8ma Senior Member

    English - Australia

Share This Page