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Stative Verbs

Verbs in English can be categorized into two main types: stative (or state) verbs and dynamic (or action) verbs. Understanding the difference between these verb types is important for using them correctly in sentences.

Stative Verbs (State Verbs):

Stative verbs, also known as state verbs, describe a state or condition that is relatively static—something that is not actively changing. These verbs refer to feelings, thoughts, senses, or states of being rather than actions. Stative verbs are not usually used in continuous tenses (like present continuous or past continuous) because they do not describe actions or activities that can be ongoing.

Stative (or State) Verb List

likeknowbelong
loverealizefit
hatesupposecontain
wantmeanconsist
needunderstandseem
preferbelievedepend
agreeremembermatter
mindrecognizesee
ownappearlook (=seem)
soundtastesmell
hearastonishdeny
disagreepleaseimpress
satisfypromisesurprise
doubtthink (=have an opinion)feel (=have an opinion)
wishimagineconcern
dislikebehave
deserveinvolveinclude
lackmeasure (=have length etc)possess
oweweigh (=have weight) 

Dynamic Verbs (Action Verbs):

Dynamic verbs, also known as action verbs, refer to actions or processes that can be seen, heard, or felt. These verbs describe activities or actions that have a clear beginning and end. They are typically used to show activities that someone does physically or mentally. Dynamic verbs are often used in continuous (progressive) tenses to indicate actions that are ongoing or in progress.

Examples of dynamic verbs:

  • run
  • jump
  • swim
  • eat
  • write
  • study
  • think
  • build
  • play

Example sentences using dynamic verbs:

  • She is running in the park.
  • They were building a house last summer.
  • He plays the piano beautifully.

Some verbs can be both stative and dynamic. 

It’s important to note that some verbs can be used both as dynamic or stative verbs depending on the context. Understanding whether a verb is being used to describe an action or a state will help in using them accurately in sentences.

Be
be is usually a stative verb, but when it is used in the continuous it means ‘behaving’ or ‘acting’

  • You are silly = it’s part of your personality

  • You are being silly = only now, not usually
Think
  • think (stative) = have an opinion
    I think that coffee is great

  • think (dynamic) = consider, have in my head
    What are you thinking about? I’m thinking about my next holiday
Have
  • have (stative) = own
    I have a car

  • have (dynamic) = part of an expression
    I’m having a party / a picnic / a bath / a good time / a break
See
  • see (stative) = see with your eyes / understand
    I see what you mean
    I see her now, she’s just coming along the road

  • see (dynamic) = meet / have a relationship with
    I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for three years
    I’m seeing Robert tomorrow
Taste
  • taste (stative) = has a certain taste
    This soup tastes great
    The coffee tastes really bitter

  • taste (dynamic) = the action of tasting
    The chef is tasting the soup(‘taste’ is the same as other similar verbs such as ‘smell’)

Key Differences:

  • Nature of Action: Dynamic verbs express actions or activities that can be observed or performed, whereas stative verbs describe states, conditions, or situations.
  • Continuous (Progressive) Tenses: Dynamic verbs are often used in continuous tenses (e.g., present continuous, past continuous) to describe ongoing actions, whereas stative verbs are not typically used in continuous forms.
  • Notion of Change: Dynamic verbs imply change or movement, while stative verbs denote a state or condition that is more static or unchanging.

Stative or Dynamic Verbs

Is the main verb stative or dynamic in the following sentences?

1 / 12

She enjoys reading books in her free time.

2 / 12

The children are playing outside in the garden.

3 / 12

He believes in working hard to achieve success.

4 / 12

Sarah is having a cup of coffee at the café.

5 / 12

My dog smells everything it encounters during walks.

6 / 12

They own a beautiful house by the beach.

7 / 12

The students understand the importance of education.

8 / 12

He is running a marathon next weekend.

9 / 12

She loves watching romantic movies.

10 / 12

The chef is preparing a delicious meal in the kitchen.

11 / 12

The flowers smell wonderful in the garden.

12 / 12

They think that traveling is a great way to learn about different cultures.

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