Stative Verbs: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 Types of Verbs
  • 1:14 Opinion & Possession Verbs
  • 2:23 Sensory & Emotion Verbs
  • 3:10 Verbs of State or Quality
  • 3:31 Stative & Dynamic Verbs
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

Not all verbs are standard action words. In this lesson you will learn about stative verbs and how they differ from dynamic verbs. You will also look at a few examples.

Types of Verbs

When you think of a verb, the first example that comes to mind is probably an action word. Run, walk, dance, talk, and play are just a few examples. These type of verbs describe an action that can be started and finished. They are known as dynamic verbs. However, dynamic verbs are not the only type of verb. If you want to describe a state of being, such as how you're feeling or what you think about something, then you have to use a stative verb. Unlike dynamic verbs, stative verbs describe states that are unchanging and can't simply be started and finished.

There are a number of different types of stative verbs. In addition to describing unchanging states, though, they all share one major characteristic: they cannot be used in the continuous or progressive tense. This is the form of a verb that describes an ongoing action, such as 'I am running.'

The word 'think,' when it refers to your opinion on something, is a stative verb. As a result, it cannot be used in the progressive form. So, for example, you can say:

'I think tomatoes are gross.'

However, you cannot change it and say:

'I am thinking tomatoes are gross.'

Opinion & Possession Verbs

One type of stative verb is verbs that show your opinion on something, as you saw with 'think.' You would use these verbs to describe how you feel about something, or how you perceive it. Some examples include think, know, believe, recognize, and prefer. For example, take a look at these sentences.

'I know my sister is there for me.'

'I believe pigs can fly if they try hard enough.'

These sentences describe unchanging states of being, not specific actions.

Verbs that describe possession are also stative verbs, as they show a current or past state of being rather than an action. Some possession verbs include have, belong, include, and own. The sentences here help illustrate this.

'I own three bicycles.'

'Our trip included a visit to the zoo.'

One thing to note is that 'have' is only a stative verb when it describes possession, such as in, 'I 'have' two dogs.' If you were to say 'He's having breakfast,' then 'have' is actually describing an action (eating), and would fall under the dynamic verb category.

Sensory and Emotion Verbs

Another situation where you need stative verbs is when describing sensory experiences. Verbs such as hear, feel, smell, seem, and see all fall into this category. Sensory experiences are not a stop-and-start action, but a state of being. Therefore, they require stative verbs, such as in these sentences.

'I feel really sick.'

'He seemed very upset yesterday.

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