Stative and Dynamic Verbs


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., shootingeating) 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.

Non-continuous Verbs

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.

More Information

For more information, please see our introduction to all twelve verb tenses in English.