I'm referring to love as a verb in the continuous. In "I am loving it" I understand that "loving" is a verb, not a noun as stated above.
Okay. Well, the word 'loving' on its own
is not a verb. It's only a verb when it's paired with a form of the verb to be as in:
will be loving
With out added forms of to be, 'loving' is a present participle. A present participle is not a verb. This is important. The reason being it gives us a better understanding of why native speakers are using 'loving' as a nominal. Example:
I am water skiing this weekend. ('water skiing' is not a verb. It's a noun)
I am going water skiing this weekend. ('going' is the verb)
Second, speakers look at how 'water skiing' functions as a noun and they borrow the idea and tranfer it over to other -ing' words, like 'loving':
I am water skiing right now. ('water skiing' is anoun)
I am loving it right now. ('loving' is a noun)
In terms of grammaticality, 'loving it' above is ungrammatical. But, that's not to say it's unacceptable. It's simply a form in the midst of change. Within the next 100 years or so, 'loving it', 'understanding it', liking it' will most definitely and probably be deemed grammatical by lingistics who describe it as a gerund. At the moment, though, they are considered ungrammatical by traditionalists.
I understand that love and enjoy share the same meaning, but can we use loving as a continuous verb?
In terms of meaning, no we can't. The verbs 'to love' and 'to enjoy' refer to states of being. States of being do not take 'ing' in English; that is, they are generally not expressed as have continuity; However, those verbs can be expressed as having continuity in other languages, and hence the reason why non-native
speakers incorrectly use 'understanding' in 'I am understanding it" and so on. in that case, it's a matter of first language transfer. In other cases, non-native speakers use 'I am understanding it' because they hear/see the participle 'understanding', e.g. "Do you have a clear understanding
(noun) of this issue?" and assume it's a verb. So they use it, albeit incorrectly, as a verb in "I am understanding."
I've also heard "I'm liking" and "I'm understanding" as well. I know for sure that those statements are incorrect. So if someone could please give me a definitive answer, I'd be grateful.
According to traditional grammar, "I'm understanding" as well as "I'm liking" are incorrect. Don't write it on an exam. However, if you want to use it informally, go ahead and do it. They may be ungrammatical but that's not to suggest they are unacceptable in this modern age. Native speakers change their language all the time. At the present time, using "I'm liking it", which even I have been known to use in informal contexts, is popular. The reason being, I think, has to do with a) the contraints of traditional grammar: it's fun to dis the authorities, to have the freedom to say what we will; and, b) empathy with non-native speakers: "I'm liking it" and such, mimic non-native speaker usage. We hear it a lot so we say it, too. Ya gotta keep up with the Jones', sort to speak. That is, if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em.