Stative verbs in English: definition, examples, and key points

This post is about stative verbs in English. It helps us understand what stative verbs in English, how to use them in a sentence, how to identify them, and how they are different from dynamic verbs and linking verbs.

Let’s kick off with the definition.

What are stative verbs in English?

Stative verb definition: A stative verb in English, also known as a state verb, is a type of a main verb that indicates the state of the subject. It tells us in what state or condition the subject is. Note that stative verbs don’t indicate any physical (dynamic) action; they simply indicate in what state the subject is.

Stative verbs examples
Stative verbs examples

Examples of stative verbs:

  • love my students.

    (‘Love‘ is the stative verb here that is showing the emotional state of the subject. Note that the subject is not performing any physical action here; he is simply in a state of being.
  • Jon did not understand what we were talking about.

    (Here, ‘understand’ is the stative verb that’s showing the cognitive/mental state of the subject ‘Jon’ in the past. He didn’t do any dynamic action. Actually, he did not do anything at all. The stative verb ‘understand’ indicates the mental state of the subject.)
  • My English teacher hates me. He doesn’t like the way I learn it.

    (‘Hates” is the stative verb here that’s showing the emotional state of the subject ‘My English teacher’. The verb ‘hate’ does not indicate any physical action.)

When I say “I love you,” do I perform an action?

Think! Do I really do something physical? No, I don’t. I am just talking about the state of my emotions for you.

When your emotions are in a certain way, you give them a name (love, hate, disgust). So verbs like love, hate, abhor, disgust, understand, etc don’t indicate a physical action. They just indicate a state (mental, emotional, possessional) the subject is in

But verbs like eat, sleep, write, type, run, walk are some verbs that indicate a physical action, unlike stative verbs.

Types of stative verbs in English

There are 5 types of stative verbs in English:

  1. Emotion stative verbs
  2. Mental or cognitive stative verbs
  3. Possession stative verbs
  4. Senses (perception)
  5. Others (conditions and stances)

Let’s have a look at all types of states and understand them.

Emotional stative verbs

These stative verbs indicate the emotional state (condition) of the subject.

  • Love
  • Hate
  • Adore
  • Abhor
  • Like
  • Dislike
  • Appreciate
  • Envy
  • Detest
  • Loathe

Examples:

  • We loved his performance last night.
  • She does not like me.
  • Jon’s father abhors parties.
  • I appreciate what you are doing for me.

Mental or cognitive state

Mental or cognitive stative verbs indicate the mental state of the subject.

  • Think
  • Believe
  • Doubt
  • Remember
  • Pretend
  • Recognize
  • Recall
  • Guess
  • Forget
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Need
  • Prefer
  • Satisfy

Examples:

  • We can’t pretend to be your friend.
  • I think you should leave now. It’s getting late.
  • They didn’t recognize me.
  • I can’t forget what happened that day.
  • Most of my friends prefer tea over coffee.
  • Everyone needs money to survive.

Possession

These stative verbs indicate the possession of the subject. Again, they won’t indicate a dynamic action; they just indicate the possessional state of the subject.

  • Have
  • Belong
  • Possess
  • Own
  • Belong
  • Want

Examples:

  • I have a lot of friends.
  • She has an amazing car.
  • My friend Rohan owns this hotel.
  • The students want notes for English classes.

Senses

These stative verbs indicate the state of the senses.

  • See
  • Hear
  • Feel
  • Seem
  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Sense
  • Sound

Examples:

  • I see a lot of protestors on the road.
  • Can you hear someone crying?
  • You seem unhappy with the results, aren’t you?
  • This cake tastes heavenly.
  • I sense danger here. Let’s move fast.

Others (conditions and stances)

  • Weigh
  • Contain
  • Involve
  • Concern
  • Lack
  • Deserve
  • Matter
  • Resemble

Examples:

  • He weighs 70 kilograms.
  • You lack motivation.
  • We don’t deserve anything without earning it.
  • You matter a lot to me.
  • She resembles my younger sister.

More examples of stative verbs

  • Ashish loves his parents more than anyone in the world.
  • Nobody likes to talk to Rohan. He brags too much about his job.
  • hated Mathematics for many years.
  • Do you believe in God?
  • He pretended to be a cop in front of my friends.
  • I can’t recall the date.
  • Every time we doubted him, he proved us wrong.
  • How can he dislike chocolates?
  • We appreciate what Max has done for our family.
  • He needed food very badly.
  • You seem upset about something.
  • The food tastes awful.
  • You smell great.
  • He sounds quite confident.
  • All of us have a gaming laptop.
  • She wanted a cook.
  • The syrup contains alcohol.
  • Shami deserves the credit for this win.
  • Nothing concerns me.

Stative verbs are not used in continuous forms.

Stative verbs are not used in continuous forms as they show the state of the subject. So, don’t make the mistake of using stative verbs in continuous tenses.

  • We are loving the class. ❌
  • We love the class. ✔️
  • Are you understanding my question? ❌
  • Do you understand my question? ✔️
  • I am remembering everything about that day. ❌
  • I remember everything about that day. ✔️
  • The students were needing some extra classes for English. ❌
  • The students needed some extra classes for English. ✔️
  • This ringtone is sounding great. ❌
  • This ringtone sounds great. ✔️
  • We are having some issues with the network. ❌
  • We have some issues with the network. ✔️
  • I have been owning this place for 10 years. ❌
  • I have owned this place for 10 years. ✔️
  • The pizza was tasting good. ❌
  • The pizza tasted good. ✔️

It’s important to note that some stative verbs are often used in continuous forms in spoken English. But still, that’s inappropriate to do if want to be grammatically correct.

  • I am loving it. (McDonald’s tagline)
  • Are you understanding me?
  • Nobody is agreeing with you.
  • Everyone is appreciating the government for taking care of the patients.

These sentences are common in practice, but they try not to use stative verbs in continuous forms.

list of verbs that can be both stative verbs and dynamic verbs

Here are the verbs that can be both stative verbs and action verbs:

  1. Smell
  2. Taste
  3. See
  4. Have
  5. Think
  6. Look
  7. Weigh
  8. Measure
  9. Be
  10. Feel
  11. Appear
VerbsStativeDynamic
SmellMeaning = the condition of something in terms of its smell

• The fish smells awful.
(In other words, the fish is awful in terms of its smell.)
Meaning = the action of using your nose

• He smells the fish before packing them.
TasteMeaning = the quality of taste of something

• The food tastes delicious.
(In other words, the food is delicious.)
Meaning = to eat something to find out its taste

• Let him taste the food.
• The chef is tasting the food.
SeeMeaning = To perceive through your eyes

• Can you see me?
(You see objects without trying to look at them. So, there is no dynamic action here.)
Meaning = to check or date a person

• The doctor is seeing someone right now. (checking)
• She is seeing someone these days. (dating)
HaveMeaning = to possess or own

• Jon has a ship.
• I don’t have much time.
Meaning = to eat, take, or taste

• You can have (eat) my lunch.
• What are you having (drinking)?
ThinkMeaning = to talk about your opinion

• I think he should try teaching.
Meaning = to have/process something in your mind

• I was thinking about our conversation.
LookMeaning = to appear

• You look dapper in the suit.
• She looked tired in the class.
Meaning = to direct eyes in a direction deliberately

• They are looking at you.
• Why did you look at my sister angrily?
WeighMeaning = the weight possessed by something

• My phone weighs 200 gms.
Meaning = to measure the weight

• The conductor is weighing the goods.
MeasureMeaning = the measurement of an object

• The TV screen measures 42 inches.
Meaning = to measure something

• We can’t measure the statue without permission.
• They are measuring the length of the house.
BeMeaning = a state of being

• My friends are supportive.
Meaning = a deliberate action to be in a state/behave

• He is being sarcastic.
FeelMeaning = to have an opinion

• I feel we are smart enough to pass the test.
Meaning = to experience a feeling or emotion (through touching generally)

• I am feeling something hot in my pocket.
• Feel the quality of the glass before buying it.
AppearMeaning = to make people believe something to be true

• He appears to be a talented teacher.
• It appears that didn’t enjoy the match.
Meaning = to show up

• Conor is appearing in the next show.
• Did Dhoni’s wife appear at the match?
A list of verbs that can be both stative and linking with examples

A list of verbs that can be both stative and linking with examples

Linking verbs vs Stative verbs

Linking verbs and stative verbs seem to be similar sometimes, but their functions are quite different. A linking verb links the subject to its complement (subject complement). It is followed by either a noun or an adjective. So, a linking verb works like a bridge that connects two parts: the subject and the subject complement.

On the other hand, a stative verb only shows the state the subject is in. Its job is to indicate the state of the subject. It isn’t necessarily followed by the subject complement, but it can.

Linking verb examples:

  • You are smart.
  • Conor is a great fighter.
  • was upset with you.
  • Your mother seems unhappy.
  • The movie could be exciting.
  • will be a father soon.

Stative verb examples:

  • love English.
  • She hates all of us.
  • remember that day.
  • We agree with you.
  • People need money to survive.
  • My teacher wants us to leave.

Note that linking verbs are linking the subject to its complement (an adjective or a noun), and the stative verbs are showing a state of the subject (emotional, cognitive, possessive). Also, note that stative verbs aren’t being followed by the subject complement here.

But some verbs work as both linking verbs and stative verbs: they indicate the state of the subject and also link it with its complement. Let’s look at the verbs that can do that.

Verbs that are both linking verbs and stative verbs

  • Be
  • Look
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Sound

Examples:

  • Jennifer is crazy about video games.
  • You are being mean to me.
  • He was my best friend.
  • The job may be good.

‘To be” form of verbs are the most common verbs that both link the subject to its complement and also show its state.

  • You look funny in shorts. (The verb ‘look’ links the subject (you) to its complement (funny) and also indicates the physical state of the subject.)
  • The food smells tasty. (The verb ‘smells’ links the subject (the food) to its complement (tasty) and also indicates the state of the food.)
  • The fish tasted awful. (The state (condition) of the food is awful, and the verb ‘taste’ is linking the subject ‘the food’ to its complement ‘awful’.)
  • He sounds arrogant. (The verb ‘sounds’ is showing the state in which the subject (he) seems to others (arrogant), and it is also connecting the subject with its complement.)

Congratulations! You guys have now mastered how to use stative verbs in English. Feel free to correct any typing mistake you come across in the post.

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