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How to Use Stative Verbs

Some English verbs are called non-continuous verbs or stative verbs. These are very similar to action verbs, but they describe a state or situation that lasts for some time.

Here is a list of stative verbs.

likelovehatewant
needpreferagreemind
ownsoundheardisagree
satisfydoubtwishdislike
deservelackoweknow
realizesupposemeanunderstand
believerememberrecognizeappear
tasteastonishpromisethink
imagebeinvolvemeasure
weighbelongfitcontain
consistseemdependmatter
seelooksmelldeny
impresssurprisefeelconcern
haveincludepossess

A verb that is not stative is an action verb.

However, some verbs can be a stative verb or an action verb. Let's look at these.

1. Think

think (stative) = have an opinion
  • I think that she is nice.
Think (action) = consider, have in my head
  • I am thinking about my family.
2. Have

have (stative) = own
  • I have a dog.
have (action) = (used as part of an expression – ex. have a party)
  • I am having a good time.
3. See

see (stative) = see with your eyes / understand
  • I see a beautiful sunset.
see (action) = to date or have a relationship with
  • We have been seeing each other for 5 years.
4. Taste

taste (stative) = has a certain taste
  • It tastes good.
taste (action) = to try eating or drinking something; the act of tasting
  • Taste this soup.
5. Feel

feel (stative) = has a certain feel
  • The pillow feels soft and cool.
feel (action) = to touch; the act of feeling
  • Feel this.
6. Look

look (stative) = to have the appearance of
  • It looks good.
look (action) = to turn one's eyes toward something; the act of looking
  • What are you looking at?
7. Be

be (stative) = (regular use of be verb)
  • He is nice.
be (action) = (can sometimes be used with continuous tenses)
  • He is being stupid.
Normally, we cannot use stative verbs with the continuous verb tenses. We can only use action verbs.
  • I am having a car.
  • She is owning a restaurant.
  • He deserves getting a promotion.
However, English speakers do not always use proper grammar when speaking. So, we may hear some stative verbs used with the present continuous. Here is an example.
  • It is looking good.
These verbs are very important if you want to speak English well. Study this lesson carefully, and also study our verb tense lessons that will show you how verb are used in different English verb tenses.

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