There are stative verbs and dynamic verbs.
Dynamic verbs describe a physical action, like to run, to read, to call. Stative verbs (also called state, non-continuous) describe an abstract action like to believe, to want, to seem etc. We need stative verbs to express our attitude, opinion, feelings, senses, ownership and so on.
It is important to remember that we don't put stative verbs into continuous tenses. It means we don't add -ing to them even if the situation requires a continuous tense. Dynamic verbs can be used in simple as well as in continuous tenses.
listen — dynamic verb, hear — stative verb
Speak now! I’m listening!
It’s too noisy in here. I don’t hear what you’re saying.
rise — dynamic verb, cost — stative verb
Prices are constantly rising.
Now everything costs more than it used to.
List of stative verbs
We can divide stative verbs into several groups.
|Emotional attitude||Thoughts, opinions, mental processes||Senses||Possession||Measures and others|
Verbs denoting emotions and attitude
- care for
Do you prefer black tea or green tea?
If you want to stay at home, I don't mind.
Do you need my help now?
Verbs denoting mental processes
- agree, disagree
We didn't realize the danger we were in.
I don't understand what he's saying.
I think we should go by train. Do you agree?
His plan seems feasible.
Verbs denoting perception
What are you pointing at? I don’t see anything.
You smell lovely — is it your new perfume?
He doesn’t sound very confident.
Verbs denoting possession
We have owned this house for twenty years.
Whom does this lorry belong to?
We lack storage space.
Verbs denoting measurement, contents and other verbs
Where are my sunglasses?
How much does a decent laptop cost at the moment?
My suitcase weighs more than 30 kilos.
Verbs that can be static and dynamic
Some verbs from this list can be stative or dynamic depending on the meaning.
have and having
Have is stative in the meaning of possession but it becomes dynamic in expressions like have a break, have lunch, have a shower.
I have an idea.
She’s having a bath at the moment.
be and being
Be is usually not used in the continuous. But we say am/is/are being meaning someone is acting weirdly right now — often with negative shades, criticism.
He is silly. always
He’s being silly. = is acting silly right now
He is a nice man. in general
I wonder why he’s being so nice to me today. only now, strange behaviour
think и thinking
The verb "think" has two meanings:
to think = have an opinion, believe → stative
to think = consider → dynamic
When "think" means "consider", it can be used either in the simple or in the continuous tense.
Isn't it a great idea? What do you think?
I think we'd better go home.
I'm still thinking about that offer. Should I agree or not?
I've been thinking, what if we spent Christmas in Switzerland?
see и seeing
to see = use your eye-sight → stative
to see = meet → dynamic
So we can say be seeing someone meaning plans for the future.
Stop hiding, I see you.
We are seeing Jill and Mike on Friday.
taste и tasting
to taste = to have some taste → stative
to taste = try something → dynamic
The apple mousse tastes a bit sour.
The food blogger is tasting the risotto.
The verbs agree, appear, doubt, feel, guess, hear, imagine, look, measure, remember, smell, weigh, wish can also be stative or dynamic depending on the context.