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Stative and Dynamic / Action Verbs


Stative verbs and dynamic verbs

Stative verbs

Stative verbs have undefined duration. they denote states rather than actions.

Examples of statives are:

want, know, have (when it means possession), think (when it means opinion), like, love, hate, need, prefer, agree, sound, hear disagree, wish, look (when it mean seem), smell, seem, include...

You cannot say:

  • I am knowing the truth.
  • I am liking pizza.
  • It is sounding like a great idea.

But you must say:

  • I know the truth.
  • I like pizza.
  • It sounds like a great idea.

Dynamic verbs

As opposed to a stative verb, a dynamic (or action) verb shows continued or progressive action on the part of the subject.

Examples of dynamic verbs (dynamic verbs) are:

act, build, complete, design, develop, draw, fix, gather, handle, head, help, improve, interview, introduce, justify, listen, lead, measure, narrate, negotiate, orchestrate, originate, outline, perform, persuade, predict, regulate, record, save, show, study, target, transform, travel, treat, uncover, unveil, use, validate, value, visualize, widen, write, zap, zoom...

These verbs can be used both in the simple and continuous forms.

  • Look at her! She is acting foolishly.
    OR
    She acts as a teacher in this movie.
  • The company is targeting young customers with this new product.
    OR
    We targeted a new market with that product.

Dynamic and stative

Some verbs can be both action verbs and dynamic verbs depending on their meaning:

1. Be

  • be = it is usually used as a stative verb - stative
    He's an excellent guitarist.
  • be = when it means behave or act, it can be used as a an action verb in the continuous form. - dynamic
    You are being silly.

2. Think

  • think = to express an opinion, to believe - stative
    I think it's a fantastic idea.
  • think = consider, to reason about or reflect on, ponder, to have or formulate in the mind - dynamic
    I am thinking about my friend

3. Have

  • have = to possess, to own - stative
    He has a beautiful car
  • have = when it doesn't mean own or possess - dynamic
    He's having lunch.

4. See

  • see = to perceive with the eye, to understand - stative
    I see what you mean.
  • see = to meet, to be in the company of, to escort, to attend - dynamic
    He's been seeing the same woman for eight years.

Related material

Dynamic and stative verbs exercise

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