The main reason why you’ll want to know the difference between stative and dynamic verbs is that stative verbs do not have a continuous tense.
There are a number of continuous tenses, and what they all have in common is that they contain a present participle (e.g., shooting, eating) and some helping verbs.
You can’t use a stative verb in this form:
Incorrect: I am believing you.
Correct: I believe you.
Now that you know why the distinction matters, let’s see how we can keep these verbs apart.
Not all verbs regularly express continuous action. Here are some examples of non-continuous verbs:
Emotion or feeling: hate, love, feel, want …
Possession: own, possess, belong …
Thought and opinion: believe, know, realize, understand …
Communication: agree, mean, promise …
These are stative verbs, in that they express a state, not an action. That’s why you wouldn’t say “I am owning a mountain bike.”
However, there are plenty of exceptions. You might say “I am loving this” or “I think I am understanding you.” When used in this way the verb takes on a more dynamic aspect.
For more information, please see our introduction to all twelve verb tenses in English.