English verbs can be grouped into different categories like dynamic verbs, stative verbs, regular verbs, and irregular verbs. But what are stative verbs? That’s a great question!
I’ve made this guide that will give you an understanding of the meaning of stative verbs. Find out its types, uses, and examples and I break it all down for you.
What is a Stative Verb?
In English grammar, a stative verb is one of the types of verbs that expresses a state or condition instead of an action, according to Merriam Webster. I use them all the time in fiction writing.
To recall, a verb is a part of speech that expresses time while showing action, a condition, or the fact that something exists.
Stative verbs relate to emotions, relationships, and thoughts. Other common examples of stative verbs show states of being and measurements.
The other types of verbs are dynamic verbs or action verbs. These verbs describe something happening, a dynamic process, or any physical action we take. Some examples include run, talk, and cook.
What are the Types of Stative Verbs?
Stative verbs can be divided into five categories. I’ve broken them all down for you to make it easier to scan and read.
Emotional Stative Verbs
These stative verbs show an emotional state. Here are some emotional stative verbs examples.
Possession verbs are verbs that show ownership. They include:
Sensing verbs, also known as perception verbs, come from your five senses.
Mental or Cognitive Stative Verbs
Mental verbs show a mental process or the mental state of the subject. These verbs are typically unavailable for outside evaluation.
There are lots of examples of cognitive stative verbs. Here’s a stative verb list I made up in the mental category.
These are some stative verbs off the top pf my head that describe the state of being. For example:
How to Use Stative Verbs
Stative verbs can be confusing even if they’re considered lifeless verbs. Here are some rules on how to use these English verbs.
Some Verbs Can Be Stative and Dynamic
Many grammar references emphasize the common situation where a verb can either be a stative or an action verb. Here are two examples.
- The group is thinking about what food they will bring to the party.
- I think it was a good movie.
In the first sentence, is thinking is an action verb because it refers to an action the group does. But the second sentence only shows a mental process or the mental state of the speaker.
Don’t Use Stative Verbs in Continuous Verb Tenses
One of the most well-known rules about non-continuous or stative verbs is that you cannot use them in continuous tenses. These verb tenses are formed with an auxiliary verb, helping verb, or be verb and the -ing verb form.
For example, you are likelier to use like and likes instead of liking. That’s because like is not an action verb.
- Incorrect: I am liking chocolate cake.
Correct: I like chocolate cake.
I am liking chocolate cake is not necessarily incorrect. Use it for informal situations and conversations. But for formal situations, I think the second sentence is more appropriate.
But you can still use time expressions with stative verbs like now and at the moment. It’s possible to use this type of verb for unchanging situations or events that continue for an indefinite time period.
Stative Verbs are Used Similarly to Linking Verbs
Stative verbs act like linking verbs because they add more information about something’s being or condition. Even the tricky verb be is a stative verb.
But stative verbs can be transitive verbs, meaning they have a direct object. But linking verbs do not have direct objects. Take a look at the difference between these two stative verb sentences.
- I like pie.
- I am a student.
In the first sentence, the stative verb like has a direct object, pie. But in the second sentence, am is an intransitive linking verb.
Stative Verbs Can Be Regular and Irregular
Regular verbs follow the usual pattern for their simple past and past participle, while irregular verbs don’t. Some examples of regular stative verbs are like, love, and hate.
- I hated his article about women in STEM.
- I have hated his articles since last year.
Become is an example of an irregular stative verb. Its simple past tense is became, but its past participle is become.
- I became an avid reader last year.
- I have become an avid reader recently.
Is Confusing a Stative Verb?
Confuse is a stative verb. But confused and confusing are adjectives. The adjective confused means unable to think clearly. Confusing is another type of adjective meaning bewildering.
Is Work a Stative Verb?
Work does not have a stative meaning. It refers to be engaged in an activity. Therefore, its type of meaning makes it a dynamic verb.
Summing Up Stative Verbs
Static verbs, being verbs, or stative verbs in English are verbs that do not show action. Instead, they denote a condition or state of being.
Differentiating between a dynamic and a stative verb may take a bit of time. But constantly practicing will help you master this grammar skill. I promise!