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Please, take a look at this answer from English.SE.

I have spent a lot of time trying to understand what the poster meant, but to no avail.

His suggestion nicely deals with the cases of be, need and love, but I don't see how the theory applies to other verbs.

For example:

I am eating an apple.

How does the proposed theory explain the progressive here?

Or, consider:

We are getting married next month.

Same question for this one as well.

Also, what is with the following said by the poster?

..., decisions that have been taken (but might have not been),...

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  • When you don't understand the OP in another forum, why don't you kindly ask him/her there to be more explicit? Aug 5 '15 at 13:59
  • @jknappen because his reputation is 31 and the answer was posted September 8th of 2013. I don't think I will ever get a response.
    – user132181
    Aug 5 '15 at 14:07
  • But that's where the question belongs.
    – user6726
    Aug 5 '15 at 15:17
  • @user6726 This question is supplemental to OP's previous question here: [linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/12999/… Aug 5 '15 at 15:41
  • "decisions that have been taken" might be like the on-the-agenda sense of "I'm returning to Boston next month". However, the progressive doesn't seem to contribute to the meaning: "I return to Boston next month" has the same sense.
    – Greg Lee
    Aug 5 '15 at 16:20
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The writer at ELU is saying basically the same thing as De Wit and Brisard, the authors of the paper cited in your previous question, just using different language.

Note that neither of these is trying to "explain" all progressives—they're trying to account for edge cases. The writer at ELU is specifically concerned with the use of stative verbs in the progressive, De Wit and Brisard are interested in a wider range of cases; but both treatments are concerned with situations in which the progressive construction seems to contrast with the simple construction along some other axis than the ordinary perfective/imperfective contrast. De Wit and Brisard locate this axis on a contrast between "epistemic contingency" and "epistemic necessity", and use a little "possible-worlds" terminology to describe it. I don't see a lot of difference between that and the ELU guy's description:

What the form BE+V-ing really does is to indicate that the action or state refered to by the verb in question is presented by the person speaking as actualized (that's the mental operation marked by the suffix -ing) and that this actualization is intimately linked to the situation under consideration (which is the core value of the verb BE). In other words : the action/state is specifically true in this situation to the (possible) exclusion of other situations.

The "decisions made" thing is one of a range of possible situations in which the progressive might be called into play:

Now that can translate into many things, such as actions that are underway now (present continuous), decisions that have been taken (but might have not been), things that are unusual, things that will take place because of a present decision, or things that the person speaking judges of negatively (I observe it, and I'm not happy about it)...

What the progressive means in any particular utterance is (pace De Wit and Brisard) a matter of pragmatic inference.

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  • What pragmatic inferences are used by native speakers, then? I am genuinely curious. Google searches are of no use, it seems.
    – user132181
    Aug 5 '15 at 15:46
  • @user132181 Both treatments give several examples; although they don't characterize their interpretations as pragmatic inferences, that's what they are. Aug 5 '15 at 15:59
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"What the form BE+V-ing really does is to indicate that the action or state refered to by the verb in question is presented by the person speaking as actualized (that's the mental operation marked by the suffix -ing) "

Other linguists in France, such as Henri Adamczewski also agree that the marker '-ing'actualizes (makes real) the event in question and in fact it presupposes it.

In your case: 'I eat an apple' would be used in a story-telling context for instance. -I am eating an apple" would be used in a conversation, in which the goal is not to say that you are eating an apple or rather not to assert it but simply to use it as a way to apologize for not doing something else for instance. The fact that you are eating an apple is seen as "presupposed".

In the case of "We are getting married next year", the -ing marker shows that the decision has been made before the moment of speaking or that the information is not presented as new in absolute terms.

Compare this to:" We get married next year" which would sound like a dry statement such as the reading of an official schedule in which the goal is simply to inform.

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