Grammar. 21.09.2010
Grammar Teacher

These tricky verbs. Stative vs. Dynamic

Автор: Grammar Teacher

Навряд чи, спілкуючись рідною мовою, вам доводиться думати про те, що існують дієслова на позначення діяльності, руху, інші  - на позначення буття у часі та просторі ; що окрему категорію складають дієслова, що позначають психічні та емоційні стани людини. Такими питаннями задаються хіба що філологи і то лише під час написання своїх наукових праць.  Для людей,які використовують мову на інтуїтивному рівні, такі слова, як танцювати, любити, хвилюватися різняться лише за значенням, але точно не за належністю до тієї чи іншої лексико-семантичної групи. Можливо, тому молодому чоловіку з офісу на Грушевського,якого мені днями довилось зустріти, не зрозуміла різниця між такими вживаннями дієслова THINK:


Адже в українській мові різниця між «Я думаю, він – гей» та «Я думаю над вирішенням даної проблеми» граматично ніяк не позначається і відчути її можна, лише провівши детальний аналіз двох вживань одного дієслова «думати». В першому випадку воно вживається для позначення людського відношення до певної дійсності і може бути замінене словом «вважати», в другому ж – відображає психічний процес людини,який має свій початок і кінець.

What about English? Its verbs are classified into two categories:  DYNAMIC (ACTION) VERBS and STATIVE VERBS.

Dynamic verbs describe activities, events and actions that can begin and finish. Dynamic verbs CAN BE used in continuous tenses. These include ones like kick, take, do.
Stative verbs refer to a state or condition that is static or unchanging. To name a few - have, be, know, believe. These verbs CANNOT BE normally used with continuous tenses. This is because the continuous form suggests something is temporary and of limited duration, usually happening at a specific time, for example:  "At the moment, I am working on a computer."  However, a state is something which has a feeling of permanence or unlimited duration. For example: "The sun is the source of energy."
So, we say 'I know my Father', not 'I am knowing my father', because the relationship feels permanent, and it is a state of knowledge not an activity. You either know your father or you don't. To know or not to know, that is the example.
There are 2 helpful things which can help you to distinguish between the stative and the active form of a verb.
1.   Stative verbs aren’t used as imperatives (накази).
So we can tell somebody:  “Run!”, but it would be unusual to hear something like “Know the answer!”
2.   If you cannot force (вимусити, форсувати) the action, then it is stative.
My cat is forced to weigh 10 pounds.
The candy bar is forced to cost $1.20.
The trip is forced to take 7 hours.
These sentences are nonsense because the actions (to weigh/to cost/to take) cannot be forced!
However, in this example…
I forced my cat to take the antibiotics.
…you see that the action of taking antibiotics was forced (and I have the scratch marks to prove it)!

            But two areas are still confusing for English language learners. The first is that some words can be used in progressive forms and in stative forms. For example, “I have a car.” I can’t say, “I’m having a car.” But I can say, “I’m having a party tonight.” Different meanings.
The next thing that is confusing is that many times even though a verb is stative, some native speakers will use it in the progressive. For example, “realize” is supposed to be a stative verb, but many people may say, “I’m realizing how much she means to me.” And it makes perfect sense. Then there is the McDonald’s commercial that says, “I’m lovin’ it.” Ugh! “Love” is a stative verb!
Interestingly, the word “stative” is not recognized by MS Word and most native-English speakers do not know this word, but they intuitively know the concept. As with most of the English language, I suppose.
Now, let’s take a close look at the groups of stative verbs and how they can change their meaning with continuous tenses.
Stative Verbs are generally divided into three categories :
·         relational verbs 
·         perception verbs 
·         cognition verbs
Relational verbs (Відносні дієслова) are verbs that almost never take continuous forms.
We say: It belongs to me. not It is belonging to me. Or I deserve. not I am deserving it.

belong to
consist of
depend on


 Perception Verbs (Дієслова на позначення відчуттів) are verbs that can form a continuous form but with the change in the regular meaning. 
Here is a list and a detailed description of the perception verbs:
Simple form: These roses smell wonderful. (They have a certain smell. It’s part of their state, existence. You can’t order them to smell differently.)
Continuous form: She is smelling the roses. (It’s a voluntary action which has certain duration and which can be forced).

The same is with TASTE.

Simple form: This soup tastes great.
Continuous form: She is tasting the soup.

SEE has also different meaning when used with continuous tenses:
Example Form Meaning
I see Simple Present I understand
I see him now Simple Present I see him with my eyses
I am seeing images Present Continuous Mental illness
I am seeing my dentist tonight Present Continuous Appointment
She has been seeing him for 3 months Present Continuous Dating
Simple form: I hear you now. (You don't need to shout.) - The simple form means I hear you with my ears. (I'm perceiving). 
Continuous form:  I am hearing some voices. - The continuous form means a mental illness.

Cognition Verbs (Дієслова на позначення пізнання та сприйняття) are verbs that may not form a continuous tense at all or when they are used in a continuous form their regular meaning changes.


 Here is a list of cognition verbs that form a continuous form with a change in meaning:




Example Form Meaning
I am not feeling well Continuous Healthy/unhealthy
I feel good Simple Present Expresses a mood
I am feeling the fabric Present Continuous I'm touching it
It feels soft Simple Present It is soft






Example Form Meaning
I think it's a good idea Simple Present Opinion
I am thinking about the exam
Present Continuous
Mental process






Example Form Meaning
I have a car Simple Present Possession
I am having a good time

Present Continuous

Not a possession



Other verbs which have different meaning when used in continuous form are: 

weigh - Action: The butcher is weighing the meat now. State: This meat weighs six kilograms.

 fit - Action: This dress fits me very well. State: The carpet layers are fitting the new carpet downstairs (meaning installing or putting together).

 look - Action: Why are you looking at me like this? State: She looks really great today. (She has a certain look).

 be - is usually a stative verb, but when it is used in the continuous it means ‘behaving’ or ‘acting’

 State:  You are stupid = it’s part of your personality.

 Action:  You are being stupid = only now, not usually.

 Now you may listen to this podcast to make sure you understand all the secrets Stative and Dynamic verbs have.

And also this video /video/post/50 will make it even easier.



In the following McDonald's commercial you’ll find usages of both Stative and Dynamic verbs. Please, watch it and write them down. Then explain why they are stative or dynamic. Pay attention to the verbs THINK and LOOK.  Good luck!





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