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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

Hello Rsb,

No, I'm afraid it isn't. 'fall' is an intransitive verb in most cases. Perhaps you mean 'Someone tripped me'?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Ok.
Can we say like that "you make me fall"

Hello Rsb,

Yes, you can say 'you made me fall'. This has a similar (though more general) meaning to the transitive use of the verb 'trip'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Is that also correct

You made me fall her

Hello Rsb,

No, it is not. 'fall' is an intransitive verb (see the Verb patterns section) and so doesn't take an object.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir,

I don't want to be late for the next period.

What is late in this context I mean adjective or adverb?

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).

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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