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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,

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

Thanks!!!!

Sir ,
Likewise 'Separate' is an ergative verb.

Is it possible 'Separate' can either be state or action verb? Can it either be state verb in one sentence or action verb in another sentence For example,

1. The couple separated after 25years of successful marriage.(stative verb)

2. The couple separated from the railway track.(action verb)

Hello Rsb,

You are confusing transitive/intransitive, which refers to whether or not a verb has an object, with dynamic/stative, which deals with whether a verb describes an action or a state.

Ergative (or labile) verbs can be transitive or intransitive. Separate is an ergative verb.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir,

It's dominating on me.
Can't understand when verb will be said an action or state verb?

Hello again Rsb,

A stative verb describes a state of being which is constant and does not change through its duration.

An action or dynamic verb describes an action or a process which changes over time.

These definitions are related to meaning but are useful because they have grammatical implications, such as state verbs not being used with continuous aspect.

 

This is not the same as transitive (has an object) and intranstive (no object). Both stative and dynamic verbs can be transitive or intransitive.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir,
The couple separated after 25 years of marriage. ( It's an intransitive verb and state verb here)??

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