Stative Verbs

How to use stative (state) and dynamic verbs


Some English verbs, which we call state, non-continuous or stative verbs, aren't used in continuous tenses (like the present continuous, or the future continuous). These verbs often describe states that last for some time. Here is a list of some common ones:

Stative (or State) Verb List

like know belong
love realise fit
hate suppose contain
want mean consist
need understand seem
prefer believe depend
agree remember matter
mind recognise see
own appear look (=seem)
sound taste smell
hear astonish deny
disagree please impress
satisfy promise surprise
doubt think (=have an opinion) feel (=have an opinion)
wish imagine concern
dislike be have
deserve involve include
lack measure (=have length etc) possess
owe weigh (=have weight)

A verb which isn't stative is called a dynamic verb, and is usually an action.

Some verbs can be both stative and dynamic:

Be
be is usually a stative verb, but when it is used in the continuous it means 'behaving' or 'acting'
  • you are stupid = it's part of your personality
  • you are being stupid = only now, not usually
Think
  • think (stative) = have an opinion
    I think that coffee is great
  • think (dynamic) = consider, have in my head
    what are you thinking about? I'm thinking about my next holiday
Have
  • have (stative) = own
    I have a car
  • have (dynamic) = part of an expression
    I'm having a party / a picnic / a bath / a good time / a break
See
  • see (stative) = see with your eyes / understand
    I see what you mean
    I see her now, she's just coming along the road
  • see (dynamic) = meet / have a relationship with
    I've been seeing my boyfriend for three years
    I'm seeing Robert tomorrow
Taste
  • taste (stative) = has a certain taste
    This soup tastes great
    The coffee tastes really bitter
  • taste (dynamic) = the action of tasting
    The chef is tasting the soup

    ('taste' is the same as other similar verbs such as 'smell')

Try this exercise about stative and dynamic verbs
Learn about when we use the present continuous
Go back to the main verb tenses page

privacy policy