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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

Nivel de idioma

Intermediate: B1

Comments

Hi Rsb,

OK, I can see what you mean! But, I still recommend interpreting wearing as a verb, not an adjective. That's because it doesn't fully behave as an adjective, from a structural point of view.

 

Some -ing verbs do behave fully as adjectives. For example:

  • He is caring.
  • He's a caring man.
  • His caring face made me feel safe.
  • He seems caring.

Caring is an adjective in these examples because it can be put before the noun it describes (e.g. a caring man), and it can be used with other copular verbs instead of be (e.g. 'seems' in He seems caring). Wearing can't be used in these two ways.

 

Another reason is that only a verb (not an adjective) can link to an object.

  • He is caring. (caring = adjective; no object)
  • He is caring for his mother. (caring = verb; his mother = object)

As wearing has an object here (a white shirt), I recommend interpreting it as a verb.

 

Sorry for the rather dry and technical explanation – but I hope it helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Yes sir, some verbs in past participle form and present participle form(ing form) behaves as an adjective. They don't function as verb in the sentence. For example,

The chair is broken.(adjective broken V3rd form)
I like dancing doll.(adjective dancing ing form)
I understood it Jonathan sir.
Thanks

Hi,Sir
Are those the only stative verbs?

And in my following sentence 'I started looking for a new apartment last week. And I still don't find one.'
Is the sentence 'I still dont find one' appropriate in the sentence? Or should it become 'I still haven't found one.'

Is 'find' one of stative verb?

Thank you,Sir

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!

Thanks for the response!!!

Sir,

Is it correct sentence- "he is a stammered boy"

Here Stammered act as an adjective past participle form?

Hello Rsb,

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

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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