VerbAbout VerbsAction VerbsCausative VerbsContractionsDo and MakeFinite and Nonfinite VerbsGerundInfinitive FormInversionLinking VerbsModal VerbsMay and MightMoodsPhrasal VerbsSay and TellShallStative VerbsThird Person SingularUsed toRegular VerbsIrregular VerbsVerb FormsCompound Verbs
ConditionalConditionalZero ConditionalFirst ConditionalSecond ConditionalThird ConditionalMixed ConditionalInversion in Conditional Sentences
Passive VoicePassive VoicePresent Simple PassivePresent Continuous PassivePast Simple PassivePast Continuous PassivePerfect Tenses PassiveFuture Simple PassiveGoing to PassiveSay / Believe / SupposeGet + Participle
Adverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of Frequency - Position in Sentence
QuestionsQuestion TagsRhetorical QuestionsEcho Questions
Reported SpeechReported SpeechModals in Reported SpeechReported Commands and RequestsReported QuestionsPresent Perfect in Reported SpeechFuture Perfect in Reported Speech
Irregular VerbsIrregular Verbs - GroupsIrregular Verbs - Forms
ParticiplesPresent ParticiplePast ParticiplePerfect Participle
Other TopicsWill vs. Going toIf / Even if / Whether / Unless If + Were or If + WasAs If / As Though + Past SubjunctiveHabits Expressed by Will and WouldHad BetterSubject
Read MoreAuxiliary VerbsAuxiliary Verbs: To BeAuxiliary Verbs: To HaveAuxiliary Verbs: To DoWhen To Use the Verb To Be
Grammar

Stative Verbs

Stative verbs (called also state verbs) express senses and mental processes. Usually we don’t use them in the continuous form.
They are often connected with thinking, feelings, opinions, emotions or senses. The most common are:

like, love, prefer, hate, know, think, mean, understand, need, want, wish, believe, doubt, imagine, remember, see, hear, feel, taste, smell, look.

Examples:

  • I love lying in bed on Sunday mornings.
  • I need to know right now, Jude!
  • Paul says he doesn't know who did it, but I don't believe him.
  • I'm afraid she doesn't want to speak to you again, Chris.
  • Do you remember the first time we talked, Ann?
  • Does he understand which bus to take?
  • I can’t see anything. It’s too dark.
  • It smells of smoke in here.
 Although enjoy is a verb of emotion, it can be used in the continuous tense: I’m enjoying the guitar lessons.

Stative Verbs in the Continuous Form

Some verbs used in the simple form can also be used in the continuous form. That's typically when they have an active meaning
or emphasise a change. Very often these sentences have a completely different meaning:

Verb Form

Verb

Example

Meaning

 

Simple

to think

I think you should see a doctor.

opinion

Continuous

to be thinking

I'm thinking of changing my flat.

trying to reach a decision

 

Simple

to love

I love going to the cinema.

feeling

Continuous

to be loving

You look great in this hat. I'm loving it, man!

emphasis or gradual process

 

Simple

to smell

I smell something burning.

sense

Continuous

to be smelling

My baby was smelling a flower.

activity

 

Simple

to have

He's really rich — he has 3 cars.

possession

Continuous

to be having

When you called me, I was having a bath.

activity

 

Simple

to see

I can see you have a big garden.

sense

Continuous

to be seeing

I'm seeing him later.

appointment

 

Simple

to taste

I could taste a lot of sugar in the wine.

sense

Continuous

to be tasting

He was tasting the cake and said it was OK.

activity

There is a group of verbs that can be used in both the continuous and simple forms with no difference.
These are, for example, the verbs to hurt and to feel
  • How is Mary feeling after the accident?
  • How does she feel after the accident?

Check your understanding!

VerbAbout VerbsAction VerbsCausative VerbsContractionsDo and MakeFinite and Nonfinite VerbsGerundInfinitive FormInversionLinking VerbsModal VerbsMay and MightMoodsPhrasal VerbsSay and TellShallStative VerbsThird Person SingularUsed toRegular VerbsIrregular VerbsVerb FormsCompound Verbs
ConditionalConditionalZero ConditionalFirst ConditionalSecond ConditionalThird ConditionalMixed ConditionalInversion in Conditional Sentences
Passive VoicePassive VoicePresent Simple PassivePresent Continuous PassivePast Simple PassivePast Continuous PassivePerfect Tenses PassiveFuture Simple PassiveGoing to PassiveSay / Believe / SupposeGet + Participle
Adverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of Frequency - Position in Sentence
QuestionsQuestion TagsRhetorical QuestionsEcho Questions
Reported SpeechReported SpeechModals in Reported SpeechReported Commands and RequestsReported QuestionsPresent Perfect in Reported SpeechFuture Perfect in Reported Speech
Irregular VerbsIrregular Verbs - GroupsIrregular Verbs - Forms
ParticiplesPresent ParticiplePast ParticiplePerfect Participle
Other TopicsWill vs. Going toIf / Even if / Whether / Unless If + Were or If + WasAs If / As Though + Past SubjunctiveHabits Expressed by Will and WouldHad BetterSubject
Read MoreAuxiliary VerbsAuxiliary Verbs: To BeAuxiliary Verbs: To HaveAuxiliary Verbs: To DoWhen To Use the Verb To Be