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I heard the following news a while ago.

59 percent of the voters are wanting Mr Modi to be the next PM of the nation.

What is the justification for the usage "wanting"?

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    A source would be helpful here. This would not be a common locution in the US, but there are regional differences in English usage. Commented Dec 8, 2018 at 16:40
  • "wanting" is "want" over some period of time. "voters want Mr Modi" means today, but "voters are wanting Mr Modi" means continuously over some period of time.
    – user3169
    Commented Dec 8, 2018 at 21:37
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    Was this Indian English? Are wanting wouldn't work in American or British English.
    – user230
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 5:39
  • On the contrary, it can work in British English, to convey that right now, today 59% of voters want him, but last week there were nothing like that many, and it may be very different again next week. I don't know about AmE.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 17:55
  • Yes, the progressive could be used in AmE and yes, it conveys the idea of right now. However, here, I think it is more Indian English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 19:01

2 Answers 2

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This is a good question. The short answer is that simple present is much more common in written English. (Indeed, an attempt to get stats from Google Ngrams failed because neither “I’m wanting” nor “I am wanting” is even common enough to index.)

When I’m describing a situation that never changes, or what I normally do, I always use simple present. When I describe something that’s only true for a short interval of time, I always use the present progressive. In most situations, which don’t fall cleanly into one or the other, I use either.

This applies to state verbs such as hope, want and expect, for the most part. I would probably say, “I expect my elected representatives to share my values,” and not “I’m expecting,” because that’s something that’s always true. I would probably say, “Right now, I’m still expecting my party to lose narrowly, but another good poll could change my mind,” because that’s a state I’m in provisionally and temporarily. Similarly, I would say something like, “I normally go for a morning walk, but because it’s so hot, I am staying home today.” The first verb I highlighted is a recurring, habitual action, and the second is a temporary, time-limited one. (And native speakers don’t say “it *is being so hot,” even though we might use other progressive-tense verbs in the same context.) If I could add “always,” “normally” or “usually” without changing the meaning, the verb should probably be in the simple present. If I could add “for now” or “at the moment” without changing the meaning, the verb should probably be in the present progressive. In most cases, though, I could say it either way.

I probably wouldn’t say, “they’re wanting” something here. I’m not sure exactly why, but it might be a legacy of how wanting used to mean inadequate, deficient or insufficient, as in the quote, “You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting.” It’s not that uncommon to hear song lyrics like, “She’s wanting me less and I’m wanting her more,” though. (Some of the comments claim that this is different in India, where the article you cited is from.)

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It is similar to "I am loving it", which was used in a commercial. Language changes over time and sometimes ungrammatical usage becomes common, but I wouldn't recommend it in newspaper articles.

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