Stative verbs

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

Average: 4.3 (81 votes)

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?
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Submitted by Kirk Moore 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?
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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.
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Submitted by Kirk Moore 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