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Stative Verbs

Some verbs are mostly used in simple tenses and are not used in continuous tenses; they are called stative, or state verbs.
Some Stative Verbs
Abhor, adore, astonish, believe, desire, detest, dislike, doubt, feel, forgive, guess, hate, hear, imagine, impress, intend, know, like, love, mean, mind, perceive, lease, prefer, presuppose, realize, recall, recognize, regard, remember, satisfy, see, smell, suppose, taste, think, understand, want, wish.
Stative verbs describe states or conditions that continue over a period of time.
  • I like this painting, who is the artist?
  • I desire another piece of cake, but I think I will get fat.
  • Did you realize that Tom is the smartest person in the class?
  • I do not recall you telling me we had to stay late tonight.
  • My wife does not satisfy me anymore.
Stative verbs are often verbs connected with thinking and opinions.
  • Do you agree with me?
  • I don’t recognize it, do you?
Verbs connected with thinking and opinions include: believe, doubt, guess, imagine, mean, remember, and think.
  • I believe there is no God.
  • I believe that Jesus is the son of God.
  • I can imagine that religion makes you happy.
  • I remember going to Sunday school as a child.
  • I think I am a spiritual being.
Other stative verbs are connected with feelings and emotions.
  • I feel I am falling in love with you.
  • I am fed up with you drinking every night.
  • I feel very ill and I am unable to come to work today.
  • I hate my new boss!

Other stative verbs in this group include: dislike, love, prefer, want, and wish. Although enjoy is a verb of emotion, it is used in the continuous tense.

  • I love One Direction's new album.
  • I dislike their first album.
  • I fell in love with South East Asia the first time I went there. 
  • I’m enjoying the party.

The Five Senses

See, hear, taste, smell, feel are verbs that describe senses.
These verbs aren’t usually used in continuous forms. They are often used with can.
  • It smells of smoke in here.

Not it’s smelling of smoke in here

  • I can’t see anything. It’s too dark.
  • I can't feel my legs.
  • Your food tastes amazing.
  • I can hear you snoring from my bedroom.
Stative verbs describe things that are not actions. Look carefully at these two sentences.
  • He smells of eggs.
  • He’s smelling the eggs.
The second sentence is an action and not a state. The man wants to know if the eggs are OK to eat.
  • I think we should go to China for our holiday this year.
  • I was thinking about my holiday to China next week.
The first sentence is an opinion but the second sentence is an action.


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