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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Soumis par CJ21 le mer 13/10/2021 - 07:34

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Have a bath , have fun, have a good time, have a drink are all activities that can be used in the continuous form. State verb have: have a car, have blue eyes, have a job, Cannot be used in the continuous form. So why can’t ‘have an exam’ be used in the continuous form? It’s an activity….Please can you explain?

Hello CJ21,

We use 'take an exam' to talk about the activity (e.g. 'Tomorrow I can't meet with you because I'll be taking an exam' or 'No, I'm afraid Sue can't speak with you now because she's taking an exam').

We say 'have an exam' to talk about the exam as an obligation or something in our schedule (e.g. 'Tomorrow morning we have the maths exam' or 'Medical students have a lot of exams').

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Amit01 le ven 27/08/2021 - 10:00

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"The lecturer is thinking to go to the conference on history in Bangladesh every year" - is the use of "thinking" here correct ? or grammatically it’s wrong ?

Hi Amit01,

It's a good question. People do sometimes say or write thinking to ... with the meaning of 'considering doing something'. Here are some examples I found:

  • I am thinking to get a gift for our friend.
  • There were some reports previously that Apple was thinking to make an iCar.

However, it seems less commonly used than thinking of, and most dictionaries don't include it (yet). So, I would say that it's fine to use in informal situations, but probably not in formal situations, where standard or 'correct' language forms are preferred (such as in an exam, or a presentation). 

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Mussorie le mer 09/06/2021 - 10:49

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Could please explain the difference between 1.we have a great day 2.we are having a great day.

Hello Mussorie,

The second sentence describes a day which is in progress - in other words, today.

The first sentence could be a more general statement, but it requires some kind of comment as to which days are generallt great. For example:

We have a great day every time we go to the zoo.

We have a great day whenever you visit.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Rsb le sam 24/04/2021 - 14:42

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Sir, You confuse me = You make me confused. Both the sentences have same meaning . The difference is only that confused is an adjective in that (you make me confused)???

Soumis par Peter M. le dim 25/04/2021 - 07:54

En réponse à par Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

Yes, that's correct. You can replace it with other adjectives:

You make me confused/happy/sad/hopeful etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, He drowned the kittens = He made the kittens drowned. Here , both have the same and equal meaning? We can also make this sentence (he drowned the kittens) with the help of causative verb "he made the kittens drowned" . Here drowned is an adjective.

Soumis par Kirk le lun 26/04/2021 - 11:06

En réponse à par Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

The first sentence is correct. The second one seems as if it should be, and people would understand it, but I wouldn't call it correct.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Rsb le jeu 22/04/2021 - 04:51

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Sir, Word 'sprained' is an adjective? For example, my legs got sprained. And word 'sprain' is a verb also For example, you sprained his legs.
Peter sir, Sometimes I get confused with the dictionary. So i ask here. Thanks

Hello Rsb,

You are welcome to ask us about sentences that you find on our websites, or even sometimes if you find them in authentic texts in print or online, but we have a limited capacity to correct numerous sentences that our users have written because it often takes quite a bit of time to answer them properly. That's what the two sentences you've asked about here appear to be, and neither one is correct. The issue is that our primary role here is to help our users with our website.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Rsb le mar 20/04/2021 - 20:29

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Sir, 'Confuse' is a verb. It has a form confuse, confused(V3 form) and confusing(V- ing form) And also 'confused' behaves as an adjective too. Example, he confuses me. He confused me. He is confusing me. Are these sentences correct? And u aware that we can make the same sentences with the help of causative verb Its structure: subject+make+ object+V 1st form Subject +make+object+ adjective He makes me confused. He made me confused. He is making me confused. My question starts here Why do we need to add 'ed' in the end of the verb confuse and why we make it an adjective by adding ed in the end of verb. We can't write only He makes me confuse. He made me confuse He is making me confuse Hope u got my point and help to resolve it?

Soumis par Peter M. le mer 21/04/2021 - 07:44

En réponse à par Rsb

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Hello Rsb,

The construction here is make + sb + adjective: make him happy, make her angry, make us tired.

In your example, you need to use the adjective confused: He makes me confused.

 

You can also use confusing, but you'd need a very specific context:

What I said is very easy to understand, but your translation is terrible! It makes me much more confusing than I really am!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, 'Confuse' is not a verb? Are these sentences incorrect He confused me etc.

Soumis par Peter M. le jeu 22/04/2021 - 06:42

En réponse à par 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

Soumis par Mussorie le mar 08/06/2021 - 18:50

En réponse à par 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

Soumis par muratt le lun 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

Soumis par Rsb le lun 19/04/2021 - 11:35

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Sir, 'The woodcutter falls down the tree.' Fall is an ergative verb?

Soumis par Jonathan R le mar 20/04/2021 - 03:56

En réponse à par 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

Soumis par Rsb le mar 20/04/2021 - 20:08

En réponse à par 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-

Soumis par Rsb le sam 24/04/2021 - 17:05

En réponse à par 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

Soumis par Rsb le ven 07/05/2021 - 08:00

En réponse à par 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

Soumis par Timothy555 le mer 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

Soumis par Kirk le ven 09/04/2021 - 13:16

En réponse à par 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

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

Soumis par Rsb le mer 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.

Soumis par Rsb le mer 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

Soumis par Kirk le mer 24/03/2021 - 07:15

En réponse à par 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

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

Soumis par Manc le lun 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

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

Soumis par Rsb le ven 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?