Stative Verbs

1. What is a stative verb?

Stative verbs (also known as state verbs) are verbs that describe a state or situation instead of describing an action. These verbs usually relate to emotions, thoughts, opinions, senses, and states of being.

Stative verbs are the opposite of dynamic verbs, which express an action, process, or change. Dynamic verbs usually describe an action that has a clear beginning and end, but stative verbs describe states that may continue for a long or indefinite period of time.

Example 1:

Jennifer loves her dog.

  • The verb in this example is “loves.”
  • “Loves” describes an emotion, and it is usually a state without a clear beginning or end.
  • For this reason, we know that “loves” is a stative verb.

Example 2:

Joey knows a lot about dinosaurs.

  • “Knows” is the verb in this sentence.
  • The verb “knows” is related to thoughts/opinions, and it is hard to find a clear beginning or end for knowing something.
  • This means that “knows” is also a stative verb.

Example 3:

Billy ate the cheeseburger.

  • The verb in this sentence is “ate.”
  • “Eating” describes an action that has a clear beginning and end. It’s easy to know when you started and finished eating something.
  • This information tells us that “ate” is NOT a stative verb, it is a dynamic verb.

It is important to know that stative verbs are usually NOT used in continuous forms. Continuous forms are verbs that end in –ing like running, smiling, playing, etc.

Example 1:

We would say: I like pepperoni pizza. Correct!

We would NOT say: I am liking pepperoni pizza. Incorrect!

Example 2:

We would say: I see the sunset. Correct!

We would NOT say: I am seeing the sunset. Incorrect!

Example 3:

We would say: I don’t understand Spanish. Correct!

We would NOT say: I am not understanding Spanish. Incorrect!

The most common stative verbs include love, hate, like, prefer, seem, know, understand, doubt, feel, believe, agree, want, and wish.

Some verbs can be both stative and dynamic, depending on how they are used in a sentence.

Example 1:

I think basketball is the best sport.

I’m thinking about buying a cat.

  • In the first sentence, “think” is a stative verb describing an opinion. It is difficult to determine when an opinion begins and ends.
  • In the second sentence, “thinking” is NOT a stative verb, it is a dynamic verb. Here, “thinking” describes an action or a process that is actually happening. This thought could have a clear beginning and end, unlike the opinion described in the second example.

Sara is rude.

Ben is being rude.

  • In the first example, Sara is always rude. It is part of her personality, so it is a state of being for Sara. This means “is” is a stative verb
  • In the second example, Ben is only being rude right now, making it a dynamic verb in this example.

Stative verbs describe a state, such as a feeling, sense, opinion, or other state of being. The activity being described by a stative verb usually does not have a clear beginning or end.

 

2. Examples of Stative Verbs

Example 1:

I hate spinach.

  • The verb in this example is “hate.”
  • “Hate” describes a feeling or emotion, and it is difficult to say when hating something begins or ends.
  • “Hate” is a stative verb.

Example 2:

Chloe prefers chocolate ice cream to vanilla.

  • In this sentence, the verb is “prefers.”
  • “Prefer” expresses an opinion. In this case, the opinion is that chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla ice cream.
  • It is hard to say when a preference for something begins or ends.
  • For this reason, we know that “prefers” is a stative verb.

Example 3:

My mom believes that education is important.

  • The verb here is “believes.”
  • “Believe” expresses an opinion, and it is hard to say when a belief begins or ends.
  • This tells us that “believes” is a stative verb.

Example 4:

I feel very tired.

  • In this example, the verb is “feel.”
  • “Feel” can express an emotion, opinion, or state of being.
  • It is not easy to know when you started or stopped feeling something.
  • “Feel” is a stative verb.

Example 5:

Maria wishes she could fly.

  • “Wishes” is the verb in this sentence.
  • A wish expresses an opinion or feeling.
  • We usually don’t know when we started or stopped believing something.
  • “Wishes” is therefore a stative verb.

Remember that stative verbs don’t describe an action. Instead, they describe a state of being, feeling, or thinking something.

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