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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

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. :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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 :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir,

She has changed a lot.

She is changed a lot.

Which is correct?

Hello Rsb,

It depends on the context, but assuming that you are remarking on how much this person has changed (in terms of personality, attitude, etc.), the first one is correct.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir,
'Egg is boiling'.

'I am getting angry'.

How to identify an action verb? It shows the process of something

Sir,

'the movie is releasing on 23rd feb.'

Release is an ergative verb?

Hi Rsb,

Yes, it is! The use of release as an intransitive verb for movies, games, songs and so on is quite a new thing, and it's becoming quite common.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir,
What is 'breakdown' is it noun or adjective?

The cab is breakdown.
The cab was breakdown.
The cab got breakdown.

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