Verbs are basically the words that help us describe an action or a state of being related to someone or something. So, by its definition, we notice that they have two popular functions. One is to express action, and the other is to describe a state or a condition. When a verb has the latter function that describes a state rather than an action, it is said to be a stative verb.
And in this post, we will discuss stative verbs in detail to understand how verbs like think, smell, love, hate, etc., work in a sentence.
What are stative verbs?
In English grammar, verbs used in a sentence can have two main classifications. One group of verbs is called the dynamic verbs, and the other is called the stative verbs.
So, the second group, the stative group, consists of verbs that describe the state of someone or something rather than the action they perform. That means stative verbs are the words that help indicate the condition of the subject in a sentence.
Since these verbs are used to indicate a state, they are non-continuous in nature, meaning they cannot be used in continuous tenses such as present and future continuous tenses. Instead, they act in simple or perfect tenses where there is no progressive aspect. And if a verb is used to describe an action in a progressive manner, they are dynamic verbs and not stative.
Stative verbs are mostly related to
Thoughts and opinions: guess, know, mean, believe, etc.
Emotions and feelings: hate, love, dislike, want, etc.
Perceptions: feel, look, smell, etc.
Possessions: to have, belong, own, etc.
Let us look at some examples to have a better understanding.
I know the queries. I am knowing the queries. (Wrong)
I really love pizzas. I am really liking pizzas. (Wrong)
- He seems happy to see you.
- I want to eat.
- I have to go to the party.
Here, all the verbs mentioned in the sentences express the state of someone. They are not actions and are not performing in the continuous tense.
Verbs that are not always stative
So stative verbs are those that describe a state. However, not all stative verbs are always stative. It means some stative verbs can be continuous in nature, depending on the context or the situation they are being used in.
The most common examples of verbs that can function either way are have, feel, and think. But, of course, there is some difference in their purpose. For example
- I have a cycle. As a stative verb, it describes a possession.
- I am having my lunch. As a dynamic verb, it describes an activity or an expression.
- I think we need a break. As a stative verb, it describes an opinion.
- What is she thinking about? As a dynamic verb, it describes an expression of considering something.
Thus, some verbs can act as both dynamic and stative verbs. However, when we say stative verbs, it directly leads to a state of being.