Stative verbs

Do you know how to use stative verbs like think, love, smell and have?

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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Language level

Hi Rsb,

Complete is an adjective or a verb (see the links to the Cambridge Dictionary). The adverb form is completely

I'm afraid I don't really understand what the first sentence means. Does it mean 'see the person's whole body'? If so, if would be more usual to say Can I see all of you?.

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Sat, 20/03/2021 - 06:16

In reply to by Jonathan R

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Yes the whole body. Can I see you all- all an adverb Can I see you full- full an adverb Can I see you completely, is that correct

Hi Rsb,

Sentence 3 is correct. Sentence 2 has full, which is an adjective, but you could change it to the adverb fully

Sentence 1 is a bit different because you all means 'every person' or 'everybody in a group'.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 06:18

In reply to by Jonathan R

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Wow thanks sir. I like your explanation Jonathan

Submitted by Rsb on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 06:24

In reply to by Jonathan R

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Sir, 'Can I see all of you' or can I see you all It senses every person or everybody in a group not a single person right But can I see you fully/Completely- it senses single person

Submitted by Jonathan R on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 12:05

In reply to by Rsb

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Hi Rsb,

That's right! But Can I see all of you? has both meanings (i.e., it can refer to a single person or many people).

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Thu, 18/03/2021 - 10:44

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I think 'Live, Stand, Sit, and Wear' are also examples of stative verbs, aren't they ?

Hello SonuKumar,

I would not categorise these verbs as stative. They can all be used with progressive aspect, for example, and can also be used as imperatives.

 

I would caution against seeing stative and dynamic as fixed, binary categories. It is a useful way to think about verbs at times but there are many verbs which do not fit neartly into one or other group, or which can be found in either depending on the context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Wed, 17/03/2021 - 20:32

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Sir, Is Live a stative verb if yes then how ?

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 18/03/2021 - 07:56

In reply to by SonuKumar

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Hello SonuKumar,

I'm afraid we can't provide support for this sort of query. Please check with another more specialised source.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Wed, 17/03/2021 - 05:24

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'I was fallen by someone' Is it correct??

Hello Rsb,

No, I'm afraid it isn't. 'fall' is an intransitive verb in most cases. Perhaps you mean 'Someone tripped me'?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Ok. Can we say like that "you make me fall"

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 18/03/2021 - 07:58

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

Yes, you can say 'you made me fall'. This has a similar (though more general) meaning to the transitive use of the verb 'trip'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Sat, 13/03/2021 - 12:27

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Hi sir, 'understand' and 'believe' is an ergative state verb? Correct me if I am wrong. For example, I understand you(transitive verb) If you don't understand, put your hand up.(intransitive) I don't believe you(transitive) I believe in ghost (intransitive

Hello Rsb,

I'm afraid we can't keep providing support for this sort of query. Please check with another more specialised source.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Sat, 06/03/2021 - 12:52

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Hi sir, I don't want to be late for the next period. What is late in this context I mean adjective or adverb?

Submitted by Jonathan R on Sun, 07/03/2021 - 06:19

In reply to by Rsb

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Hi Rsb,

It's an adjective in this sentence, because it follows the verb be. It's an adverb if it follows another verb (e.g. I don't want to arrive late).

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Thu, 11/03/2021 - 05:26

In reply to by Jonathan R

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Thanks! Sir, Egg is boiling and I m getting angry' In both sentences there is happening something with the subject. Then how to understand it is an action verb in first sentence and it's a change in state in second sentence but both shows process

Submitted by Genaib on Sat, 06/03/2021 - 09:14

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Are you making bread? It _____ amazing. ==>>For my note, here the context shows an action for making bread by the subject and giving the smells l in the same time while the speaker got attentioned.. So why don't we use (is smelling)?

Hi Genaib,

It's true that 'making bread' happens at the same time as 'it smells amazing', but these are separate things (one is making, one is smell(ing)), so the tense we choose depends on the properties of the verb (i.e. 'making bread' is an action, but 'to smell amazing' is a state). That's why the second one can't be in the present continuous. :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by BriggitaAngie123 on Thu, 04/03/2021 - 11:03

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Hii, I have a question. If be and like is a stative verb, is mild and wild also???

Hi BriggitaAngie123,

Actually, mild and wild are adjectives, not verbs :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Thu, 04/03/2021 - 03:00

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Sir, She has changed a lot. She is changed a lot. Which is correct?

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 05/03/2021 - 08:54

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

It depends on the context, but assuming that you are remarking on how much this person has changed (in terms of personality, attitude, etc.), the first one is correct.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 05:22

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Sir, 'Egg is boiling'. 'I am getting angry'. How to identify an action verb? It shows the process of something

Submitted by Rsb on Thu, 25/02/2021 - 10:15

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Sir, 'the movie is releasing on 23rd feb.' Release is an ergative verb?

Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 25/02/2021 - 12:44

In reply to by Rsb

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Hi Rsb,

Yes, it is! The use of release as an intransitive verb for movies, games, songs and so on is quite a new thing, and it's becoming quite common.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 23:50

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Sir, What is 'breakdown' is it noun or adjective? The cab is breakdown. The cab was breakdown. The cab got breakdown.

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 21/02/2021 - 14:06

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

I'm afraid none of these sentences is correct. If you look up 'break down' in the dictionary, I think it should become clear, but let us know if you have a more specific question.

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Fri, 12/02/2021 - 03:40

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Sir, 'he died from the cholera' Died is an intransitive and stative verb here? 'I love you' here 'love' is transitive and state verb in this sentence right Could you pls tell me the example in which verb is ergative and stative both in the sentence?

Hello Rsb,

Die is not a stative verb, but it is intransitive. Any good dictionary entry should indicate if a verb is transitive or intransitive.

Love is transitive and stative in your example.

 

I don't know if there is an ergative stative verb. We're happy to provide help with explanations but I don't have a list of all ergative verbs to cross-check against stative verbs.

You can find some more information on ergative verbs here:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/ergative-verbs

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, If die is not a stative verb, is it an action verb? If it is then how?

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 16/02/2021 - 08:02

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello again Rsb,

Die is not a stative verb as it can be used with continuous aspect: He's dying, so you should speak to him soon.

 

Conceptually, dying can be a process rather than a single momentary event.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ok. Sir what is 'look' in this context? You look good- (state) You look at me -(action) I read somewhere some verbs can be both state and action verb

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 17/02/2021 - 07:18

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

Look has more than one meaning. When it is used to describe a person's physical appearance it is a stative verb, as your example shows. When it is used to mean something you do with your eyes it is a dynamic verb.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks sir. Sir, You are looking good. Is it correct to say?? Can we use state verb in continuous form??

Hello Rsb,

Yes, that is possible. We can use the continuous form here to show that something is temporary rather than generally true. For example, you might say this if a person has dressed in a particular way for a special occasion. You would not use it for a general description of how someone normally looks.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

So sir it still shows a state verb if we say 'you are looking good'???

Hello again Rsb,

When a state can be perceived as having continuity and progress over time then the progressive form is possible. There are quite a few examples of this:

I've been wanting to talk to you for a while.

She was intending to tell you, I'm sure.

I'm loving this!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ok. Sir Like u said "look" has more than one meaning, get has also more than one meaning for example, I got angry- linking verb change in state I get you a drink - action verb

Submitted by Rsb on Thu, 11/02/2021 - 18:46

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Sir, Suppose 'Battery will reach warehouse by 20th feb' I can't familiar with the action verb when subject is non living . Could u share me the page of it? And explain me

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 12/02/2021 - 10:27

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

Action verbs can have subjects that are inanimate. I'm afraid I don't know of any explanation of this anywhere, but it's quite straightforward -- there is no such limitation.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Fri, 01/01/2021 - 05:54

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Sir, Wishing every day of the year to be filled with success , happiness and prosperity for you. Happy new year 2021 Sir, this quote is in passive form? And why don't we add is/are before the word 'to be filled' n the sentence? Wishing every day of the year are to be filled with success happiness and prosperity for you. Is that incorrect?? Another example, 1. 'People to be informed about the road' Is that incorrect 'people are to be informed about the road' 'This room to be cleaned by me' Is that wrong to say 'this room is to be cleaned by me'

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 01/01/2021 - 10:32

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

Holiday wishes are not usually complete sentences. Typically, they are reduced forms from which different words have been omitted.

I'd understand 'wishing' in the first one as a reduction of 'I wish' or 'With this card, I wish'. You could say 'will be' instead of 'to be'.

Your other example sounds like the title of an article. If it were a complete sentence, it would need 'are' (as you suggest). The same is true of the last sentence -- the word 'is' is missing (if it's supposed to be a complete sentence).

Please remember that we're happy to help with isolated examples from other texts if they're directly related to the grammar or content of a page, but we don't have the resources to explain every example that you may find.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Complete sentence in what sense? Is that not complete sentences People are to be informed about the road. This room is to be cleaned by me'.