Stative Verbs Guide: Meaning, List, and Examples

A stative or state verb tells the state or condition of the subject rather than indicate the action being performed. Stative verbs primarily describe a situation (I have) or state of being (I am). They specify how someone or something is, feels, or appears. This article explores the list of stative verbs in English, highlighting their proper usage in sentences.

Stative verbs are not used in continuous tenses (like future continuous). They illustrate situations or conditions that are unchanging while they last and can continue for an indefinite period. Let’s examine them in more detail.

What are Stative Verbs?

Stative verbs describe a state of being; mental, emotional, physical, a situation or condition in which the subject is or exists. Unlike dynamic verbs, they do not describe an action performed by the subject in a sentence. Common state verbs are: know, belong, be, like, have, seem, understand, and prefer. They don’t indicate a physical action – they only portray a state of being, a situation, or a condition the subject is in.

Consider the following sentence examples:

  • I love my family. (‘Love‘ in this sentence is a stative verb. It indicates the subject’s emotional state rather than a physical action being performed.)
  • We did not understand what the teacher taught in class. (‘Understand’ is a stative verb, showing the cognitive or mental state of the subject ‘we.’ There’s no dynamic action being performed in the sentence.)

Types of Stative Verbs in English

There are essentially five types of stative verbs in English.

  • Emotional stative verbs
  • Mental or cognitive stative verbs
  • Possession stative verbs
  • Perception and Sensation
  • Others (conditions and stances)

List of Stative Verbs in English: Emotional stative verbs

Emotional stative verbs indicate the emotional state or condition of the subject. They include the following:

  • Dislike
  • Love
  • Appreciate
  • Hate
  • Envy
  • Adore
  • Detest
  • Abhor
  • Loathe
  • Like

List of Stative Verbs in English: Mental or Cognitive Stative Verbs

As the name suggests, mental or cognitive stative verbs indicate the subject’s mental state. Some of these verbs include:

  • Forget
  • Think
  • Agree
  • Believe
  • Disagree
  • Doubt
  • Need
  • Remember
  • Prefer
  • Pretend
  • Satisfy
  • Recognize
  • Guess
  • Recall

Possession Stative Verbs

Possession stative verbs indicate the possessive state of the subject.

  • Own
  • Have
  • Belong
  • Possess
  • Want

Senses Stative Verbs.

These stative verbs indicate the state of the subject’s senses.

  • Smell
  • See
  • Hear
  • Sense
  • Feel
  • Sound
  • Taste
  • Seem

Others (conditions and stances)

  • Deserve
  • Weigh
  • Matter
  • Contain
  • Resemble
  • Involve
  • Lack
  • Concern

Stative Verbs in English: Sentence Examples

  • You lack emotional intelligence.
  • My team loved your performance last night.
  • Mary does not like me.
  • My father hates lateness.
  • see you’ve done your task.
  • You seem troubled. What’s the matter?
  • This meal tastes delicious.
  • I can’t pretend to understand you.
  • think you should give up playing that game.
  • I can’t forget what Sarah did to me.

Stative Verbs Best Practices

Stative verbs are not used in continuous forms. This is because they don’t show any dynamic action. Instead, they indicate the state of the subject, which is unchanging while they last.

Your sentence will be grammatically incorrect when you use a stative verb in continuous tenses. Consider the following sentences.

  • Incorrect: We are loving the lecture.
  • Correct: We love the lecture. 
  • Wrong: Are you understanding me?
  • Correct: Do you understand me?
  • Incorrect: I am remembering everything about high school.
  • Correct: I remember everything about high school.

Often, stative verbs are used in the continuous form in spoken English – but that doesn’t make it grammatically correct. It’s best to stick to the rules. The sentences below are common practices but still grammatically incorrect. Try to avoid using stative verbs in continuous forms.

  • I am loving it. (McDonald’s tagline)
  • Are you understanding me?
  • Nobody is agreeing with me.

Stative Verbs That Are Also Dynamic Verbs

Some stative verbs in English also function as dynamic verbs in sentences. Here are some of them.

  • Be
  • Smell
  • Feel
  • Taste
  • Appear
  • See
  • Have
  • Look
  • Think
  • Weigh
  • Measure
person holding on red pen while writing on book
Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

Stative verbs in English describe a state of being, a condition or situation a subject is in, rather than a physical action being performed. Some stative verbs are also dynamic — they act as stative verbs in some sentences and indicate a physical activity in other contexts.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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