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:


I have an old car. (state – possession)
I'm having a quick break. (action – having a break is an activity)


Do you see any problems with that? (state – opinion)
We're seeing Tadanari tomorrow afternoon. (action – we're meeting him)


He's so interesting! (state – his permanent quality)
He's being very unhelpful. (action – he is temporarily behaving this way)


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 Sat, 13/03/2021 - 12:27

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 Moore on Mon, 15/03/2021 - 07:44

In reply to by Rsb


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,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Sat, 06/03/2021 - 12:52

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


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).


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Thu, 11/03/2021 - 05:26

In reply to by Jonathan R

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

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. :)


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by BriggitaAngie123 on Thu, 04/03/2021 - 11:03

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 :)


The LearnEnglish Team