Stative Verbs | Definition, List & Examples

Stative verbs describe a state or condition that is stable or unlikely to change (e.g., “ know,”  “feel,” “believe”).

Stative verbs usually refer to thoughts, emotions, or senses that the subject of the sentence is experiencing. Stative verbs are often contrasted with action verbs or dynamic verbs, which describe the action that the subject is performing (e.g., “run,” “find,” “make”).

Stative verb examples
They agreed with our proposal.

Kate prefers burgers over pizza.

This watermelon weighs a lot.

That cup belongs to me.

What is a stative verb?

A stative verb is a type of verb that describes a state of being or perception. Stative verbs can refer to mental (e.g., “believe”) or emotional states (e.g., “dislike”), as well as physical states or qualities (e.g., “contain”).

Stative verbs can be used to express possession, opinions, emotions, senses, and other states like measurement, cost, and weight.

Stative verbs examples
A water molecule consists of three atoms. [possession]

I don’t think they will win the election. [opinion]

She hates working on the weekends. [emotion]

The dog smelled really bad after the rain. [sense]

This jacket costs a lot. [cost]

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How to use stative verbs

It’s important to keep in mind that stative verbs describe situations that are unlikely to change. Due to this, stative verbs are typically not used in continuous tenses (i.e., with verbs ending with “-ing”), such as the present continuous and the present perfect continuous. However, there are some exceptions, such as the verb “feel” (e.g., “I’m not feeling good”).

Examples: How to use stative verbs
  • He is knowing exactly what needs to be done.
  • He knows exactly what needs to be done.

Stative verbs are often intransitive verbs, meaning they don’t take a direct object. Intransitive verbs are often followed by modifiers, like adverbs or prepositional phrases, that provide additional information.

Examples: Intransitive stative verbs
This cake smells delicious.

I felt sick this morning.

Cheryl was here.

However, some stative verbs can also be transitive and take a direct object such as a noun or pronoun.

Examples: Transitive stative verbs
I love that movie.

He owns several vinyl records.

She really likes you.

Stative verbs vs. action verbs

Stative verbs are often contrasted with action or dynamic verbs. While stative verbs indicate a situation or state of being, action verbs describe what the subject of the sentence is doing or has done. Action verbs can refer to both physical and mental actions (e.g, “he ran,” “I’m thinking”).

Some verbs can be either stative or dynamic depending on the meaning of the sentence. For example, the verb “see” can denote an opinion (stative verb), or the physical action of meeting with someone (action verb).

Examples: Stative vs. action verbs
I don’t see any problem with that.

They’ve been seeing each other for a month now.

One way to distinguish stative verbs from action verbs is to look at the verb tense. Stative verbs are never used in the continuous tenses, while action verbs can be used in all verb tenses.

Stative verbs vs. linking verbs

Stative and linking verbs are both used to add more information about the subject of a sentence. Many verbs can be considered as both linking and stative, such as the sense verbs “taste,” “smell,” and “feel.”

However, not all stative verbs are linking verbs. While stative verbs can be transitive, meaning they take a direct object, linking verbs are not transitive. Linking verbs are always followed by a subject complement (i.e., a noun, pronoun, or adjective that describes the subject).

Examples: Stative verbs vs. linking verbs
I like vanilla ice-cream.

I feel tired.

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Stative verbs list

Here is a list of common stative verbs.

You can download our list of stative verbs in the format of your choice below.

Download PDF list Download Google Docs list

Thoughts Emotions Senses Possession Other
(dis)agree envy appear belong be/are/is
believe fear feel comprise cost
doubt hate hear consist depend
forget hope look contain involve
know (dis)like see has/have measure
recognize love seem include owe
remember need sense own resemble
support prefer smell possess span
suppose value sound weigh
think want taste
understand wish

Exercise: Stative verbs

To test your understanding of stative verbs, try the exercise below. Choose the correct answer for each question.

  1. Which one of the following words is a stative verb?
    • whistle
    • agree
    • grow
  2. Which one of the following is not a stative verb?
    • owe
    • dislike
    • complain
  3. Choose the correct form to complete the sentence:
    •  I______(am believing/believe) you.
  1. Agree is a stative verb, whereas “grow” and “whistle” are action verbs.
  2. Complain is not a stative verb, but an action verb.
  3. Believe is correct because it is a stative verb and cannot be used in the present continuous tense.

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    If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, common mistakes, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

    Frequently asked questions

    What are the different types of verbs?

    There are many ways to categorize verbs into various types. A verb can fall into one or more of these categories depending on how it is used.

    Some of the main types of verbs are:

    What is the function of a stative verb?

    The function of a stative verb is to describe a state of being that lasts for some time. In other words, stative verbs provide more information about the subject of the sentence, rather than describe what the subject is doing.

    For example, in the sentence “The flowers smell good,” the stative verb “smell” describes a characteristic of the subject (“the flowers”).

    How do we know if a word is a stative verb?

    To determine whether a word is a stative verb, consider whether it is describing a state (e.g., “I feel exhausted”) or an action (e.g., “We ate dinner”). If the word describes a state, then it’s a stative verb.

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    Kassiani Nikolopoulou

    Kassiani has an academic background in Communication, Bioeconomy and Circular Economy. As a former journalist she enjoys turning complex scientific information into easily accessible articles to help students. She specializes in writing about research methods and research bias.