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 Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 22/04/2021 - 06:42

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello again Rsb,

Yes, confuse is a verb. However, your question was, as far as I could judge, about the construction make sb + adjective not make sb + verb.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mussorie on Tue, 08/06/2021 - 18:50

In reply to by Peter M.

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Could you please explain the difference between the sentences? 1.It makes me confused 2.It makes me confusing

Hi Mussorie,

Confused and confusing are both adjectives. Confused refers to a person who thinks something is difficult to understand (i.e., it's an effect on the person). Confusing refers to what caused the confusion, for example:

  • The situation is confusing. (= It makes me confused.)
  • This information is confusing. (= It makes me confused.)

But we can't say your sentence 2. Your sentence 1 is the correct version, because the adjective refers to 'me'.

 

Confusing may also be a verb in the -ing form, e.g.:

  • You're confusing me. Can you explain it to me again more slowly?

But in your sentence 2, confusing isn't a verb (because after 'make', the verb must be in the infinitive form, not the -ing form).

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

That means in sentence 2 it is not possible to use confusing (adjective) in that form(way), right.

Hi Mussorie,

For the meaning of 'something makes me confused', that's right - sentence 2 isn't correct. Only sentence 1 is correct.

Actually, it is possible to say It makes me confusing, but it has a different meaning. It means that I am causing the confusion for other people (not feeling confusion myself). For example, if I lack the ability to explain something slowly and clearly, it makes me confusing (i.e., other people are confused) when I try to explain it. However, this seems like a less common situation to describe.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by muratt on Mon, 19/04/2021 - 15:35

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Good afternoon. Are the below examples correct? - I was wishing for summer so hard I could almost make it happen at that moment. - Both women will be appearing before magistrates later this week. If 'wish' and 'appear' are stative verbs why is it used in this way? Am I missing something here? Thank you in advance.

Hi muratt,

Actually, not many verbs are always stative. Verbs often have several and various meanings, including the two verbs you mention.

 

About wish, the example you mention is an action. I imagine it as a person putting their hands together and closing their eyes, and thinking hard about the summer, trying hard to imagine it in detail. It's close in meaning to the phrase to make a wish. This is different from the stative meaning of wish, as in this example: I wish I was taller. Here, it's a more abstract feeling or desire, not an action that somebody does in a given moment.

 

Appear also has several meanings. In your example, it shows an action: the action of arriving and being present at an event. The stative meaning of appear is more like the meaning of 'seem', for example: She appears tired. / There appears to be a mistake in the bill.

 

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by muratt on Tue, 20/04/2021 - 21:10

In reply to by Jonathan R

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It makes more sense now. Thank you Jonathan.

Submitted by Rsb on Mon, 19/04/2021 - 11:35

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Sir, 'The woodcutter falls down the tree.' Fall is an ergative verb?
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 20/04/2021 - 03:56

In reply to by Rsb

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Hi Rsb,

Actually, fall (down) is an intransitive verb only, not transitive or ergative (see the Cambridge Dictionary page), so I'm afraid the sentence isn't correct.

But there is another transitive verb, fell, which fits in this sentence. It's transitive only.

  • The woodcutter fells the tree.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team