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I heard American people often say this.

Say, a person is drawing a picture. When he is halfway to finishing it, he says "it's looking good".

I was taught at school that many linking verbs (but not all) such as "look, seem, sound..." cannot be used in continuous tenses.

Is "it is looking good" slang?

If not, can we apply this to other verbs. For example, a man is composing a song. When he is halfway, can he say "it's sounding good"?

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    "Is it slang?", not "a slang". Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 12:59
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    You can't have "a slang". There are no "slangs". Slang is not a count noun. And it doesn't mean "ungrammatical" either. It's a specialized vocabulary used in a particular time and place and circumstance, like informal jargon, whose meaning would be unapparent to those unfamiliar with the terms used. "Tree rats" is slang for squirrels, for example, and "trash pandas" for raccoons or "sawbones" for surgeons. Something like "I ain't got no idears" isn't slang, either.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 21:33
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    By the way, I don't think you would ever hear "It is looking good" from a native speaker -- it would always be shortened to "It's looking good."
    – TonyK
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 14:43
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    @TonyK Alternatively “it is looking good” with emphasis, if you want to avoid contraction. But I agree, a neutral, uncontracted ‘it is’ would be exceedingly unlikely here. Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 16:37
  • It's common usage in British English too. Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 20:01

2 Answers 2

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The -ing form of verbs can be used to emphasize progress or that circumstances are changing in real time often with accompanying uncertainty, and that applies also to look, seem, and sound.

In your example, the image is beginning to take shape.

It's looking like rain after all. could be used in situations where there had been a small chance of rain according to the weather news, but now the leaves on the trees are turning over.

It's sounding like we'll have to get a new radiator for the car. could be a status update, now that the garage has phoned. They're going to try to use an additive that plugs leaks, but they said sometimes the additive works and sometimes it doesn't.

It's sounding better now that you've been working on that tricky part. could be an opinion on a young musician's progress learning a particular piece. More practice is called for.

It's seeming more and more like you don't want to go. could be used in a situation where a person has been gradually making it known to someone, in subtle ways that are becoming less subtle, that they'd rather not go.

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    Topically, there is a song 'It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas'. Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 12:59
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    Out of curiosity, why is 'leaves turning over' a sign of impending rain? I would have said something like 'black clouds are gathering'. Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 13:01
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    @KateBunting Leaves turning over indicates that rain is likely in the next hour or so. Opinion varies on why this happens.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 13:12
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    @KateBunting - I think it may be more commonly said in America. The way I heard it was that the leaves of deciduous trees, like maples and poplars, often turn over before heavy rain. Because of the humidity, the soft stems become limp which allows the wind to turn the leaves over. Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 13:13
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Not slang. But a normal, fairly casual comment. These verbs (looking, seeming, etc) are not normally used in the continuous form, except to emphasise the temporary or progressive situation. (You may have been taught not to use the progressive form, since in some languages you must use the progressive form in these situations, and so it is a common error)

So when something is unfinished it is very natural to say "It's looking good", (as it is temporary and in progress) and the same is true of "It's sounding good".

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