Stative verbs (or state verbs) have the following characteristics:
- They express a state rather than an action
- They refer to thoughts, senses, emotions, feelings, and possessions
- They are not usually used in the continuous (progressive) tenses (i.e. with -ing)
- Some verbs can be used as both state verbs and action verbs
So as opposed to action verbs, they reflect a mental process rather than a dynamic activity.
I am playing football tomorrow ( = action)
I went to town yesterday ( = action)
I think I will go to town ( = a thought)
I hate spicy food ( = an emotion)
There is not one way to classify them and words could fit in various categories, but here are some common examples of stative verbs placed into four common categories:
Stative Verb Examples
Here are some stative verb sentences using these verbs. Remember these state verbs cannot be used in the continuous tenses.
- I think they will win the election
- I doubt she will go tonight
- She knows what the answer is
- They suspect he committed the crime
- John loves the food
- She adores her children
- I appreciate the way you talk to me
- I need her in my life
- Yes, I see the ship over there
- He smells very bad
- If I feel the water with my hand, it is hot
- He seems very happy
- That bag belongs to me
- He has several houses
- The ticket price includes a free drink
- The smoothie consists of yoghurt, fresh banana, and lemon
We also use stative verbs for measurements, costs, and weights, so again these are not used in the continuous tenses:
- He weighs 190 kilograms
- This bags costs a lot
Action and Stative Verbs
Some verbs can express both an action and a state. However, they are usually being used to convey a different type of meaning in each case.
Action verbs refer to something dynamic, such as some kind of activity, rather than stative verbs, which reflect a state of mind or a mental process.
Here are some examples. As you can see, the action verbs can be in the continuous tense.
- State: I have a car ( = possession/ownership)
- Action: I'm having a good time ( = the action of enjoying oneself)
- State: I think he is too fat ( = an opinion)
- Action: I'm thinking about it ( = the actual action/process of thinking)
- State: I see you have a new coat ( = sense/perception)
- Action: I'm seeing John now ( = the action of having a relationship)
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