Stative verbs

Do you know how to use stative verbs like think, love, smell and have? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

Stative verbs: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

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:

have

I have an old car. (state – possession)
I'm having a quick break. (action – having a break is an activity)

see

Do you see any problems with that? (state – opinion)
We're seeing Tadanari tomorrow afternoon. (action – we're meeting him)

be

He's so interesting! (state – his permanent quality)
He's being very unhelpful. (action – he is temporarily behaving this way)

taste

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

Stative verbs: Grammar test 2

Language level

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Average: 5 (1 vote)
Sir, It's dominating on me. Can't understand when verb will be said an action or state verb?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 11/09/2020 - 07:54

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello again Rsb,

A stative verb describes a state of being which is constant and does not change through its duration.

An action or dynamic verb describes an action or a process which changes over time.

These definitions are related to meaning but are useful because they have grammatical implications, such as state verbs not being used with continuous aspect.

 

This is not the same as transitive (has an object) and intranstive (no object). Both stative and dynamic verbs can be transitive or intransitive.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, The couple separated after 25 years of marriage. ( It's an intransitive verb and state verb here)??
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 15/09/2020 - 08:47

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

In this context separate is intransitive but dynamic. You could use a continuous form, for example, which would not be possible with a stative verb:

They are separating after 25 years of marriage.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

How is it dynamic now? Couple not performing any action.

Hello Rsb,

I think you're a little confused about what a dynamic verb is. It doesn't have to be a physical action. A mental act can be expressed by a dynamic verb if it is an action which has duration and is not static in nature:

I think it is terrible. [stative, (perceived as) an unchanging situation]

I'm thinking of taking next week off work. [dynamic, an action with duration which expresses progress over time]

You can read more about these verbs and see definitions on these pages:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_verb

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stative_verb

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Postponed is not an ergative verb? I have postponed the meeting-transitive The meeting has postponed- intransitive
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Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 07/12/2020 - 07:34

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

No, postponed is a transitive verb and must have an object. You could say 'The meeting has been postponed (by someone)', which is a passive form.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Hayder991 on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 06:06

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Hey there The package came packaged up nicely and secure. Is the the verb "came" in this case or stative verb?? since it's followed by an adjective packaged and noun secure as it seems to me.. Thank you
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 06:23

In reply to by Hayder991

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Hi Hayder991,

The verb came here is a dynamic verb. It has a similar meaning to 'arrived'.

The adjective packaged modifies the noun package.

This structure is quite common, especially after verbs such as arrive, come, go, leave etc:

I came home tired and hot after my long journey.

The package arrived as beautiful as I had imagined.

I went to the meeting angry and upset with her.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team