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

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Hello Rsb,

In an informal style, 'get' is sometimes used in the place of 'be' in passive forms (see the Intermediate level on the page linked to).

If, for example, the original sentence were 'The call was answered immediately', one possible active voice version of it would be 'He answered the call immediately' (I don't know who actually answered the call, so 'he' could change to another person).

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Kirk sir! Sir what 'could' shows here in ur explanation ('he' could change to another person) ? It shows a possibility or suggestion?

Hello Rsb,

It shows possibility.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, One more doubt, "I got hurt" here 'hurt' acts as an adjective past participle form? Or is it passive construction with the same meaning "I was hurt"?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 24/01/2021 - 09:25

In reply to by Rsb


Hello Rsb,

It could be either. The sentence is inherently ambiguous and both descriptions fit it perfectly well.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Sun, 27/12/2020 - 16:37

Sir, " he is wearing a white shirt" Here 'wearing' act as an adjective. My question is - can't we say same sentence like that "He is worn a white shirt" Worn can't be used as an adjective here?

Hi Rsb,

No, that's not quite right. Wearing is not acting as an adjective. It's a verb here.

It's true that the auxiliary verb is (and other forms of be) can introduce an adjective (e.g. He is happy). But that's not its only meaning and function. It also forms part of continuous verb forms. Here, it's part of the present continuous (He is wearing).

Yes, worn can function as an adjective (because it's the past participle form). But, is worn is a passive structure (be + past participle), so the subject needs to be the thing that is worn, not the person who wears it.

  • A white shirt is worn.

Does that make sense?


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Mon, 28/12/2020 - 07:08

In reply to by Jonathan R

No sir if I m saying "you are in white shirt" it means you are wearing a white shirt. It behaves as an adjective what I think.

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 :)


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Tue, 29/12/2020 - 06:23

In reply to by Jonathan R

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