The grammar of stative & dynamic verbs

Grammar difference between stative and dynamic verbs

Dynamic verbs can be used in continuous tenses.

Stative (or ‘state’) verbs are generally not used in continuous tenses.

For example:

I am knowing John.

I know John.

I am understanding what the teacher is saying. 

I understand what the teacher is saying. 

 

Even when we are talking about temporary situations happening now, we generally do not use stative verbs in the continuous form.

For example:

This meat tastes delicious!

NOT

This meat is tasting delicious!


Verbs that can be used as stative and dynamic verbs

It is important to note that some verbs can act as both stative and dynamic verbs, depending on their use.

Remember that if you use a stative verb in continuous form, the meaning of what you say will be different!

Here are some examples:

  • This bread tastes good

In this sentence, ‘taste’ is used as a stative verb (opinion of the food / the sense of taste).

  • The chef is tasting the dinner

In this sentence, ‘taste’ is used as a dynamic verb; it is describing the action of the chef checking the quality of the food.

  • I see John! Look there he is!

In this sentence, ‘see’ is used as a stative verb (the sense of sight).

  • I am seeing Sue tomorrow.

In this sentence, ‘see’ is used as an active verb (speaker is using present continuous for a future plan).



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