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”).
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.
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”).
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.
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).
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).
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.
Exercise: Stative verbs
To test your understanding of stative verbs, try the exercise below. Choose the correct answer for each question.
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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”).
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