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

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Average: 5 (1 vote)
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 21/11/2020 - 09:19

In reply to by Risa warysha

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Hello Risa warysha,

'I still don't find one' is not correct in that situation -- as you suggest, you should say 'I still haven't found one' instead.

I expect there are other stative verbs. I'm afraid I don't know of an exhaustive list anywhere that I could refer you to.

I wouldn't say that 'find' is a stative verb. I'm not sure if it will help you, but you might be interested in reading about Dowty's analysis, which 'find' fails.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I think that 'find' is a stative verb. Firstly, it cannot appear in pseudo-cleft constructions -*What I did was find-. Secondly, even though it can occur in the progressive (since you can say something like ''I finding more and more reasons to leave you''), the act of finding happens without even realising of it, it is not something that requires a process or that involves a beginning or an end. Lastly, it cannot occur as imperative, ''*Find the money you lost last week! So, in the end, I do think that ''find'' is a stative verb. It is worth mentioning that most verbs have several meanings/interpretations, and some of them seem to be more static than others, but I really can't come up with a non-static meaning of ''find''. Hope you can give me your opinion :) cheers!
Profile picture for user Westnur

Submitted by Westnur on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 14:56

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Thanks for the response!!!

Submitted by Rsb on Mon, 05/10/2020 - 19:09

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Sir, Is it correct sentence- "he is a stammered boy" Here Stammered act as an adjective past participle form?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 06/10/2020 - 07:49

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

No, that's not correct. We would say 'He has a stammer'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Westnur

Submitted by Westnur on Fri, 02/10/2020 - 19:29

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Good day team! I have a question. Sometimes, I hear people say "you stupid" without a linking/intensive verb e.g "are". Why?

Hi Westnur,

Yes! This is a type of vocative phrase (a phrase that addresses the reader/listener directly). The structure you pointed out is very common for this usage. Other examples include you liar, you fool or you star. As you can see, this structure is often used with negative descriptions.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emmanuelniyomugabo12 on Tue, 29/09/2020 - 18:25

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Thanks!!!!

Submitted by Rsb on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 05:44

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Sir , Likewise 'Separate' is an ergative verb. Is it possible 'Separate' can either be state or action verb? Can it either be state verb in one sentence or action verb in another sentence For example, 1. The couple separated after 25years of successful marriage.(stative verb) 2. The couple separated from the railway track.(action verb)
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 07:14

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

You are confusing transitive/intransitive, which refers to whether or not a verb has an object, with dynamic/stative, which deals with whether a verb describes an action or a state.

Ergative (or labile) verbs can be transitive or intransitive. Separate is an ergative verb.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team