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

B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by Rsb on Tue, 20/04/2021 - 20:08

In reply to by Jonathan R

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Jonathan Sir what is the other form of fell? Present form- fell/fells Past form- Past participle form- Ving form-

Hi Rsb,

Fell is a regular verb, so the other forms are felled and felling.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Sat, 24/04/2021 - 17:05

In reply to by Jonathan R

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Thanks sir. Sir what is happening verb in English grammar

Hi Rsb,

To be honest, I'm not familiar with the term 'happening verb', but I guess it means a type of verb that shows an action without somebody doing the action, e.g. My watch stopped (in comparison with I stopped the watch, which doesn't have the 'happening' meaning because I did the action).

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Fri, 07/05/2021 - 08:00

In reply to by Jonathan R

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Hi Jonathan sir, U exactly understood my question what I want to ask from you. Sir I get confused with the happening verb and action verb? Like u said my watch stopped here there is something happening with my watch. I am getting angry/mad- there is also something happening but it's not an action ?

Hi Rsb,

I think I am getting angry would normally represent a happening. A happening is something that does not have any agent performing it. There may be circumstances that cause it, but it is not controlled or decided by anybody (i.e. it is independent of a person's volition).

If we understand I am getting angry as an action, that means I am choosing to react in that way. It is possible, but normally emotions arise spontaneously and outside a person's conscious control.

As I mentioned, I'm not very familiar with the term 'happening verb' and I don't know of any rules here, as it depends on the fundamental meaning(s) of each verb phrase. But this might be one useful way to differentiate them, especially for human actions - actions are often voluntarily done, while volition is not relevant to happenings.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Rsb,

I'm afraid I don't understand your question. 'happen' is a verb and 'happening' can be the present participle of the verb or a gerund of the verb.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Timothy555 on Wed, 07/04/2021 - 14:36

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Hello, Firstly, is it right to say that stative verbs are also referred to as non-continuous verbs? Secondly, is it also right to say that stative verbs are used with the simple present tense to talk about a situation which is happening right now (i.e. at the moment of speaking)? For instance, with the linking verb "be", which is a stative verb, I can say "I am a man" or "I am skinny", where these examples all mean that right now in the present moment, "I" equals (=) "man", or "I" = "skinny"? Another examples maybe "I need help" where the stative verb "need" in the simple present tense form, means that right now in the present moment, I am in a state where I require help? May I know if my understanding of the above two points is correct? Thanks! Regards, Tim
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Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 09/04/2021 - 13:16

In reply to by Timothy555

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Hello Timothy555,

What you explain in your second paragraph sounds mostly right to me, though I'm not sure I'd describe a link verb as a kind of stative verb. As for your first point, stative verbs are not generally used in continuous forms, but there are many exceptions to this.

Please note that we aren't able to provide the level of support needed to go into any more detail than this or other finer points of English grammar. This is mostly because our primary focus is on supporting our users in their efforts to learn to use English in general, but it's also sometimes true that there's more than one theory about particular grammar points. For that sort of enquiry, I'd suggest the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange or, even better, an appropriate linguistics course.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nikbud on Sat, 03/04/2021 - 10:34

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Where can I get answers of the grammar tests

Hello Nikbud,

After you enter your answers to the questions, click 'Finish'. You'll then have the option to click 'Show answers'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Wed, 31/03/2021 - 07:20

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Sir, I m getting very confused about action verb. The eggs are boiling. The chicken is cooking.

Submitted by Rsb on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 06:48

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Sir, I am at work- what is 'work' in this context noun? Is it common noun representing a place? I have work- what is 'work' in this context ? If it is noun then what kind
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Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 07:15

In reply to by Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

Yes, 'work' is definitely a noun in both contexts. It's definitely a common noun in the first instance and I'd also say it's common in the second instance. Note that in both cases, it's uncountable.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

But sir, is it representing a person,place or thing???

Hello Rsb,

In the phrase 'at work' I would say 'work' describes a place - the place where you work such as an office or a factory.

In the phrase 'I have work' the word describes a thing - the thing you have to do. Depending on the context it might also carry the meaning 'I'm busy' or 'I don't have time'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Manc on Mon, 22/03/2021 - 20:56

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What is the difference between stative verbs and linking verbs?

Hello Manc,

Stative verbs describe the state of something, as contrasted with dynamic verbs, which describe ations performed by an actor. A state is sometimes defined as something which is unchanging for as long as it lasts, while an action is a process which changes over time.

 

A linking verb connects the subject with a subject complement which describes the subject; this can be a noun or an adjective. Linking verbs may also describe how we gain the information in the description (through senses, belief, feeling etc).

 

It's true that linking verbs are usually stative. However, not all stative verbs are linking verbs.

 

Please note that descriptions of stative verbs are generally lists of features describing how they can and can't be used. Descriptive definitions of this kind are not binary, which is to say that many verbs meet some of the criteria but not others, or meet some criteria in certain contexts but not others. Stative and dynamic are useful categories to a degree, but they are not fixed categories with clear boundaries and should not be treated as such.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

So is mental action verb same as stative verbs?

Hello Manc,

There is some overlap, but they are not the same thing. 'weigh', for example, is a stative verb but doesn't refer to a mental action.

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Fri, 19/03/2021 - 05:53

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Can I see you complete. Is that 'complete' an adverb or adjective above? I am complete man Here complete an adjective?

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
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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 ?
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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"
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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
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Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 15/03/2021 - 07:44

In reply to by Rsb

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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?
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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?
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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