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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

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

Sir,
'Confuse' is not a verb?

Are these sentences incorrect
He confused me etc.

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

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

It makes more sense now.

Thank you Jonathan.

Sir,

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

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

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

Thanks sir.

Sir what is happening verb in English grammar

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