Stative Verbs in English: Types, Uses, and Examples

By Team ABJ

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When it comes to mastering the English language, understanding the nuances of verbs is essential. While many are familiar with action-packed verbs that describe dynamic activities, there’s another class of verbs that often gets overlooked but holds a unique and vital role in English grammar: stative verbs. Stative verbs describe unchanging states, emotions, and conditions. In this post, we will explore stative verbs in more detail. We will discuss what they are, how to identify them, and how to use them correctly in sentences. We will also provide examples of stative verbs in use.

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What are stative verbs?

Stative verbs are a category of verbs in English that express a state, condition or a state of being rather than an action. These verbs are also known as state verbs. They often relate to thoughts, emotions, senses, relationships, and measurements. Unlike dynamic verbs, which describe actions and processes, stative verbs do not typically describe actions that have a definite beginning or end. Instead, they describe ongoing or contiguous states. Stative verbs are typically not used in the present continuous tense, even though they may take on time expressions such as now and at the moment.

Characteristics of Stative Verbs:

Non-Action or Non-Progressive Nature: Stative verbs are not used in the continuous or progressive tense (e.g., present continuous or past continuous). Instead, they are typically used in simple tenses (e.g., present simple or past simple) to indicate a constant state of being or a timeless truth.

  • Example (Correct): She knows the answer.
  • Example (Incorrect): She is knowing the answer.

2. Inherent or Temporary State: Stative verbs can describe either inherent, unchanging characteristics (e.g., “to be,” “to know”) or temporary states that may change over time but are not actions in themselves (e.g., “to feel,” “to seem”).

  • Inherent State Example: He is a doctor.
  • Temporary State Example: She feels tired today.

3. Lack of Continuous Tense Usage: As mentioned earlier, stative verbs are not typically used in the continuous tenses. However, there are exceptions, especially when a temporary state is emphasized.

  • Exception Example: She is feeling anxious about the upcoming exam.

Note: Some verbs can be both stative and dynamic depending on the context. For example, the verb “to have” can be stative when used to indicate possession (e.g., “I have a car”) but dynamic when used to indicate actions like experiencing something (e.g., “I have a headache”).

Types of stative verbs

Stative verbs encompass various categories based on the types of states or conditions they describe. Here are some common types:

1. Verbs of Emotion: These verbs express emotions or feelings.


  • She loves chocolate.
  • He hates spiders.
  • They fear heights.

2. Verbs of Senses: These verbs describe sensory perceptions (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing).


  • The flowers smell lovely.
  • I see a rainbow.
  • She hears the music.

3. Verbs of Mental State: These verbs express thoughts, opinions, beliefs, or mental states.


  • He knows the answer.
  • She believes in ghosts.
  • They understand the concept.

4. Verbs of Possession: These verbs indicate ownership or possession of something.


  • The house belongs to him.
  • She has a beautiful necklace.
  • They own a dog.

5. Verbs of State of Being: These verbs describe a state of existence or identity.


  • She is a teacher.
  • He was happy.
  • They were friends.

6. Verbs of Perception: These verbs describe the ability to perceive or detect something.


  • She sees the problem.
  • He feels the heat.
  • They taste the food.

7. Verbs of Likelihood and Certainty: These verbs express the likelihood or certainty of a situation.


  • It seems like a good idea.
  • She doubts his honesty.
  • They believe it’s true.

8. Verbs of Desirability: These verbs express desires or preferences.


  • He wants a new car.
  • She desires success.
  • They prefer pizza.

9. Verbs of Measurement: These verbs indicate measurement or quantification.


  • The box weighs 10 pounds.
  • The book contains 300 pages.
  • The room measures 15 feet by 20 feet.

How are stative verbs used in sentences?

Understanding how stative verbs are used in sentences is crucial for English learners. Below are various examples to understand:

1. Stative Verbs in Simple Present Tense: Stative verbs are commonly used in the simple present tense to express ongoing states, habits, or general truths.

  • Example (Ongoing State): He adores classical music. (Expresses his continuous love for classical music)
  • Example (Habit): They watch TV every evening. (Indicates their regular habit)
  • Example (General Truth): Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. (States a scientific fact)

2. Stative Verbs in Simple Past Tense: Stative verbs in the simple past tense describe states or conditions that existed in the past.

  • Example (Past State): He was tired yesterday. (Indicates his past state of tiredness)
  • Example (Past Habit): She felt nervous before the interview. (Describes her past state of nervousness)

3. Stative Verbs in Negative Sentences: In negative sentences, stative verbs are used to indicate the absence or negation of a state.

  • Example (Negation of State): He doesn’t understand the concept. (He lacks understanding of the concept)
  • Example (Negation of Habit): She never appreciated his sense of humor. (She didn’t have the habit of appreciating his humor)

4. Stative Verbs in Questions: Stative verbs can be used in questions to seek information or opinions.

  • Example (Seeking Information): Do you know the answer? (Asking if someone possesses knowledge)
  • Example (Seeking Opinion): Do you like the new movie? (Asking for someone’s opinion)

5. Stative Verbs in Continuous Tenses (Exception Cases): While stative verbs are generally not used in continuous tenses, there are exceptions when emphasizing a temporary state or change.

  • Example (Temporary State): She is appearing confident today. (Emphasizes her temporary state of confidence)
  • Example (Change): He is becoming more relaxed. (Highlights a changing state)
  • Example (Change): He is getting more confident. (Highlights a changing state)

6. Using “There is/are” with Stative Verbs: “There is/are” is often used with stative verbs to indicate the existence of something.

  • Example (Existence): There is a book on the table. (Indicates the presence of a book)
  • Example (Plural): There are many options available. (Denotes the existence of multiple options)

7. Stative Verbs with Modifiers: Stative verbs can be modified with adverbs to provide more context or intensity.

  • Example (Intensity): He absolutely detests horror movies. (Emphasizes a strong dislike)
  • Example (Context): She rarely feels stressed during vacations. (Describes the infrequency of feeling stressed)
  • Example (Context): He often feels lonely. (Describes the frequency of feeling lonely)

8. Expressing Likelihood and Certainty: Stative verbs are used to express likelihood, certainty, doubt, or belief.

  • Example (Certainty): It seems like a good idea. (Indicates a high degree of certainty)
  • Example (Certainty): It is evident that she is well-prepared. (Indicates a high degree of certainty)
  • Example (Doubt): I question his sincerity in this matter. (Expresses doubt about his sincerity)

Lists of Common Stative Verbs used in English

Here’s a list of stative verbs grouped by categories, along with examples:

1. Emotions and Feelings:

  • Love: She loves her family.
  • Hate: They hate broccoli.
  • Admire: He admires her talent.
  • Desire: She desires success.
  • Enjoy: We enjoy playing games together.

2. Senses:

  • See: He sees a beautiful sunset.
  • Hear: They hear music from the neighbor’s house.
  • Smell: The flowers smell lovely.
  • Taste: This dish tastes delicious.
  • Feel: She feels the softness of the fabric.

3. Mental States and Opinions:

  • Know: He knows the answer.
  • Believe: She believes in ghosts.
  • Think: They think it’s a great idea.
  • Doubt: He doubts her sincerity.
  • Understand: I understand the concept.

4. Possession:

  • Have: She has a beautiful necklace.
  • Own: They own a dog.
  • Possess: He possesses great knowledge.
  • Belong: The book belongs to her.
  • Lack: They lack experience in this field.

5. State of Being:

  • Be: She is a teacher.
  • Exist: There is a problem.
  • Seem: It seems complicated.
  • Appear: He appears confident.
  • Consist: The recipe consists of three ingredients.

6. Perception and Observation:

  • Notice: They notice the changes.
  • Recognize: She recognizes his voice.
  • Realize: He realizes his mistake.
  • Perceive: They perceive a threat.
  • Observe: We observe the wildlife.

7. Measurement:

  • Weigh: The package weighs 5 kilograms.
  • Contain: The jar contains pickles.
  • Measure: The room measures 15 feet by 20 feet.

8. Existence and Availability:

  • Exist: Solutions exist for this problem.
  • Appear: Opportunities appear unexpectedly.
  • Occur: Accidents occur on this road.
  • Matter: It matters to him.
  • Happen: Unexpected events happen sometimes.

9. Desirability and Preference:

  • Want: She wants a new car.
  • Desire: They desire success.
  • Prefer: He prefers tea over coffee.
  • Like: She likes Italian cuisine.
  • Crave: They crave chocolate.

How to identify stative verbs?

Identifying stative verbs in English can be done by considering their characteristics and usage. Here are some guidelines to help you identify stative verbs, along with examples:

1. Non-Action Nature: Stative verbs describe states, conditions, or situations that are not actions or processes.

  • Example: She knows the answer. (Knowing is a state, not an action.)

2. Lack of Continuous (Progressive) Tense: Stative verbs are generally not used in continuous tenses (present continuous, past continuous) because they describe ongoing states, not dynamic actions.

  • Example: They have a car. (Not: They are having a car.)

3. Inherent or Temporary State: Stative verbs can describe inherent (permanent) states or temporary (changeable) states.

  • Example (Inherent State): He is a doctor. (Being a doctor is inherent to him.)
  • Example (Temporary State): She feels tired today. (Tiredness is a temporary state.)

Note: However, it’s important to note that some verbs can function as both stative and dynamic verbs depending on the context. For example, “He has a car” can describe a permanent possession (stative) or a temporary action (dynamic) depending on the context.

4. Common Categories: Stative verbs often fall into specific categories, such as emotions, senses, mental states, possession, and state of being.

  • Example (Emotion): They love each other. (Love is an emotion.)
  • Example (Sense): She sees the rainbow. (Seeing is a sense.)
  • Example (Mental State): He thinks it’s a good idea. (Thinking is a mental state.)

5. Verbs That Don’t Describe Continuous Actions: If the verb doesn’t describe an action that can be observed over time, it’s likely a stative verb.

  • Example: The cake tastes delicious. (Tasting is not an ongoing action.)

6. Verbs of Thought and Opinion: Verbs related to thoughts, opinions, and beliefs are often stative.

  • Example: She believes in aliens. (Belief is a mental state.)

Exceptions: For instance, “consider” and “think” are typically stative, but they can also be used in a dynamic sense when they imply active consideration or ongoing thought processes. For example, “I’m considering your proposal” suggests an ongoing mental process.

7. Verbs of Perception: Verbs related to sensory perception (seeing, hearing, smelling, etc.) are stative.

  • Example: He hears a strange noise. (Hearing is a sensory perception.)

8. Verbs of Existence: Verbs that describe the existence of something are often stative.

  • Example: There is a solution to the problem. (Existence is described.)

Exception: However, verbs like “become” and “turn into” can describe a change of state and may not always be stative. For example, “The caterpillar became a butterfly” describes a change.

9. Verbs of Possession: Verbs indicating possession or ownership are typically stative.

  • Example: She has a beautiful necklace. (Ownership is indicated.)

Exception: While verbs indicating possession or ownership are typically stative, be aware that they can also be used in a dynamic sense. For example, “She is holding the book” implies a temporary action related to possession.

10. Verbs of Emotion: Verbs that express emotions or feelings are generally stative.

  • Example: They love each other deeply. (Love is an emotion.)

Exception: There are some emotion verbs that can be used in dynamic contexts to emphasize intensity or change in emotion. For example, “She’s loving the movie.” suggests a strong, ongoing emotional reaction.

Stative Verbs and Verb Tenses

Stative verbs are typically used with simple tenses, such as present simple and past simple, to describe ongoing states, conditions, or permanent truths. However, there are exceptional cases when continuous (progressive) tenses can be used with stative verbs to emphasize temporary or changing states. Let’s explore this further:

1. Present Simple Tense: The present simple tense is the most common tense used with stative verbs to describe ongoing states, habits, general truths, or permanent conditions.


  • She knows the answer. (Permanent knowledge)
  • He loves reading books. (Habit)
  • Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. (Scientific fact)

2. Past Simple Tense: The past simple tense is used with stative verbs to describe past states, conditions, or permanent truths.


  • He was tired yesterday. (Past state of tiredness)
  • She knew the truth all along. (Past knowledge)
  • They owned that house for years. (Past possession)

3. Continuous (Progressive) Tenses with Stative Verbs (Exception Cases): While stative verbs are generally not used in continuous tenses, there are exceptional cases when continuous tenses can be used to emphasize temporary or changing states. This occurs when you want to highlight a state that is not typically continuous.

Exception 1: Temporary States: Stative verbs can be used in the continuous tense when the state is temporary or undergoing a change. In such cases, the continuous tense emphasizes the current or evolving nature of the state.


  • She is feeling anxious today. (Emphasizes her temporary feeling of anxiety.)
  • He is getting more confident. (Highlights a changing state of confidence.)

Exception 2: Expressing Emphasis: Sometimes, the continuous tense is used with stative verbs for emphasis or to show intensity. This is often seen in creative writing or to draw attention to a specific moment.


  • She is loving the new job. (Emphasizes her strong affection for the new job.)
  • They are hating the winter weather. (Intensifies their dislike of the winter.)

Note: It’s important to note that this usage is more common in informal speech and creative writing. In formal writing, it’s often recommended to stick with the simple tenses for stative verbs.

Phrasal Verbs with Stative Verbs

Phrasal verbs that include stative verbs are expressions where a stative verb combines with one or more particles (usually prepositions or adverbs) to create a unique meaning. These phrasal verbs often convey emotional, psychological, or cognitive states. Here are some examples, along with their meanings and usage:

1. Be fed up with: To be extremely annoyed or frustrated with something.

  • She’s fed up with her noisy neighbors.

2. Be fond of: To have a liking or affection for someone or something.

  • He is fond of playing the guitar.

3. Be scared of: To be afraid of someone or something.

  • She is scared of spiders.

4. Be worried about: To have concerns or anxiety about something.

  • He is worried about his upcoming exam.

5. Be interested in: To have curiosity or a liking for something.

  • They are interested in learning new languages.

6. Be in love with: To have deep romantic feelings for someone.

  • She is in love with her childhood friend.

7. Be concerned about: To have worries or be focused on a particular issue.

  • He is concerned about the environment.

8. Be obsessed with: To have an excessive and uncontrollable focus or interest in something.

  • She is obsessed with fashion.

9. Be accustomed to: To be familiar with or used to something due to long-term exposure.

  • They are accustomed to the city’s noise.

10. Be keen on: To have a strong and enthusiastic interest in something.

  • He is keen on hiking in the mountains.

11. Be pleased with: To be satisfied or content with something.

  • She is pleased with her performance.

12. Be upset about: To be emotionally disturbed or distressed about something.

  • He is upset about the news.

13. Be afraid of: Similar to “be scared of,” it indicates fear or anxiety about something.

  • She is afraid of the dark.

14. Be jealous of: To have feelings of envy or resentment toward someone.

  • He is jealous of his friend’s success.

15. Be surprised at: To experience astonishment or shock due to something unexpected.

  • She is surprised at the sudden turn of events.

Idiomatic Expressions with Stative Verbs

Here are some idiomatic expressions and phrases that involve stative verbs:

1. Bite the bullet: To face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and determination.

  • Example: She had to bite the bullet and tell her boss about the mistake.

2. Stick to your guns: To remain firm and resolute in your beliefs or decisions.

  • Example: Despite the criticism, he decided to stick to his guns and follow his plan.

3. Have a change of heart: To change one’s opinion or attitude about something.

  • Example: After hearing her argument, he had a change of heart and decided to support her cause.

4. Keep your fingers crossed: To hope for good luck or a positive outcome.

  • Example: She’s keeping her fingers crossed that she’ll get the job.

5. Cry over spilled milk: To waste time worrying about something that has already happened and cannot be changed.

  • Example: There’s no use in crying over spilled milk; let’s find a solution.

6. Hold your horses: To ask someone to be patient or wait.

  • Example: Hold your horses! We’ll be there in a minute.

7. Keep your wits about you: To stay alert and think clearly in a difficult or dangerous situation.

  • Example: In a crisis, it’s important to keep your wits about you.

8. Have butterflies in your stomach: To feel nervous or anxious about something.

  • Example: Before the performance, she had butterflies in her stomach.

9. Have a heart of gold: To be a kind and generous person.

  • Example: Despite his tough exterior, he has a heart of gold and helps those in need.

10. Be in the dark: To be unaware or uninformed about something.

  • Example: She is in the dark about the surprise party we’re planning.

11. Keep your cool: To stay calm and composed, especially in stressful situations.

  • Example: Even in the face of criticism, he managed to keep his cool.

12. Lose your mind: To become extremely upset, angry, or confused.

  • Example: He lost his mind when he couldn’t find his car keys.

13. Be on cloud nine: To be extremely happy or euphoric.

  • Example: After receiving the good news, she felt like she was on cloud nine.

Stative Verbs Practice Exercises

Here are some unique sentences for exercises and activities to practice using stative verbs:

1. He ____________ a big collection of stamps. (have)

2. She ____________ reading books in her free time. (enjoy)

3. The coffee in this cafe always ____________ great. (taste)

4. They ____________ the importance of teamwork. (understand)

5. The baby ____________ adorable in that outfit. (look)

6. My grandmother ____________ in the power of herbal remedies. (believe)

7. She ____________ comfortable in her favorite chair. (feel)

8. The museum ____________ a valuable art collection. (own)

9. He ____________ a deep appreciation for classical music. (have)

10. The weather in summer ____________ hot and humid. (feel)

11. The math problem ____________ difficult at first. (seem)

12. They ____________ to watch comedies over horror movies. (prefer)

13. Her smile ____________ up the room. (brighten)

14. The old library ____________ like dusty books. (smell)

15. The cat ____________ content on the windowsill. (look)

16. He ____________ all the answers to the quiz. (know)

17. She ____________ a great sense of humor. (have)

18. The restaurant’s food always ____________ delicious. (taste)

19. They ____________ that honesty is the best policy. (believe)

20. The students ____________ the importance of studying. (understand)

21. The river ____________ calm on a peaceful morning. (look)

22. He ____________ the beauty of nature. (appreciate)

23. The art exhibit ____________ of fresh paint. (smell)

24. She ____________ a passion for travel and adventure. (have)

25. The children ____________ playing in the park. (enjoy)


1) has, 2) enjoys, 3) tastes, 4) understand, 5) looks, 6) believes, 7) feels, 8) owns, 9) has, 10) feels, 11) seemed, 12) prefer, 13) brightens, 14) smells, 15) looks, 16) knows, 17) has, 18) tastes, 19) believe, 20) understand, 21) looks, 22) appreciates, 23) smells, 24) has, 25) enjoy

Stative Verbs Worksheet

Here’s a worksheet to practice identifying stative verbs:

Instructions: Identify the stative verbs in each sentence. Stative verbs describe a state of being, feeling, or possession and are not typically used in continuous (progressive) forms.

1. I believe that the future is bright.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

2. She doubts that he’s telling the truth.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

3. He guesses that we’ll be home by dinnertime.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

4. They imagine a world without poverty.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

5. I know that I’m not perfect.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

6. She remembers the first time she saw the ocean.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

7. He suspects that someone is following him.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

8. I hate the feeling of being stuck in traffic.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

9. She loves the smell of freshly baked cookies.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

10. He prefers to stay at home on weekends.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

11. They want to make a difference in the world.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

12. I wish that I could fly.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

13. I can see the stars twinkling in the night sky.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

14. She can hear the waves crashing on the shore.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

15. He looks tired.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

16. They smell the rain coming.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

17. I can taste the sweetness of success.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

18. This book belongs to my friend.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

19. The cake contains nuts.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

20. The team consists of 10 players.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

21. The country borders on Mexico and Canada.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

22. The cost of living is rising.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

23. The weight of the world is on my shoulders.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________

24. The distance between us is growing.

Stative Verb(s): _________________________________


1) believe, 2) doubts, 3) guesses, 4) imagine, 5) know, 6) remembers, 7) suspects 8) hate, 9) loves, 10) prefers, 11) want, 12) wish 13) see, 14) hear, 15) looks, 16) smell, 17) taste 18) belongs, 19) contains, 20) consists, 21) borders 22) is, 23) is, 24) is

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to stative verbs in English along with answers that can help address additional doubts:

What’s the main difference between stative and dynamic verbs?

Stative verbs describe states, conditions, emotions, and situations that are generally static and do not involve actions or changes. Dynamic verbs, on the other hand, describe actions, processes, or activities.

Can stative verbs ever be used in the progressive (continuous) tense?

While stative verbs are typically used in simple tenses (present simple, past simple), there are exceptional cases when they can be used in the continuous tense to emphasize temporary states or changing conditions. For example, “He’s feeling anxious today” emphasizes a temporary feeling of anxiety.

Are there any stative verbs that can also be used as dynamic verbs?

Yes, some verbs can function as both stative and dynamic verbs, depending on the context. For example, “have” can be stative (possession) or dynamic (action), as in “I have a car” (stative) and “I’m having lunch” (dynamic).

How do I know if a verb is stative or dynamic?

Identifying stative and dynamic verbs often comes with practice. As a general guideline, stative verbs describe unchanging states or conditions, while dynamic verbs describe actions or processes. However, there are exceptions and verbs that can be both, so context is crucial.

Can stative verbs be used in the imperative form?

Stative verbs are less commonly used in the imperative form because imperatives typically involve action verbs. However, they can be used in certain contexts, such as “Please be quiet” (using the stative verb “be” to request a state of quietness).

Can stative verbs express future actions or states?

Stative verbs are generally used to describe present or past states, conditions, or emotions. To express future actions or states, English typically relies on modal verbs (e.g., will, shall) or other future tense constructions.

Explore more:

Additional Resources:

  1. STATIVE VERBS | English Grammar | I understand? OR I am understanding? By Arnel’s Everyday English
  2. STATIVE VERBS in English by Learn English with Rebecca · engVid
  3. Dynamic and Stative Verbs | Class 4th to 8th English Grammar by Magnet Brains
  4. Stative Verbs in Continuous Form – Basic English Grammar by Learn English with
  5. Stative verbs – British Council
  6. Stating Opinion with Stative Verbs – Cambridge English