Look at these examples to see how stative verbs are used.
I think that's a good idea.
I love this song!
That coffee smells good.
Do you have a pen?
Try this exercise to test your grammar.
- Grammar test 1
Read the explanation to learn more.
Stative verbs describe a state rather than an action. They aren't usually used in the present continuous form.
I don't know the answer.
I'm not knowing the answer.
She really likes you.
She's really liking you.
He seems happy at the moment.
He's seeming happy at the moment.
Stative verbs often relate to:
- thoughts and opinions: agree, believe, doubt, guess, imagine, know, mean, recognise, remember, suspect, think, understand
- feelings and emotions: dislike, hate, like, love, prefer, want, wish
- senses and perceptions: appear, be, feel, hear, look, see, seem, smell, taste
- possession and measurement: belong, have, measure, own, possess, weigh.
Verbs that are sometimes stative
A number of verbs can refer to states or actions, depending on the context.
I think it's a good idea.
Wait a moment! I'm thinking.
The first sentence expresses an opinion. It is a mental state, so we use present simple. In the second example the speaker is actively processing thoughts about something. It is an action in progress, so we use present continuous.
Some other examples are:
I have an old car. (state – possession)
I'm having a quick break. (action – having a break is an activity)
Do you see any problems with that? (state – opinion)
We're seeing Tadanari tomorrow afternoon. (action – we're meeting him)
He's so interesting! (state – his permanent quality)
He's being very unhelpful. (action – he is temporarily behaving this way)
This coffee tastes delicious. (state – our perception of the coffee)
Look! The chef is tasting the soup. (action – tasting the soup is an activity)
Other verbs like this include: agree, appear, doubt, feel, guess, hear, imagine, look, measure, remember, smell, weigh, wish.
Do this exercise to test your grammar again.
- Grammar test 2
A stative verb is one which requires one or more objects. There is no requirement for the verb to have a physical action.
The Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics 6th edition (Crystal, 2008) gives the following definition of transitivity:
The LearnEnglish Team
The verb be is very rarely used in the continuous when it is a main verb in English. Thus we say
The LearnEnglish Team