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State verbs and Dynamic verbs in English

Use of state verbs

Not every verb can be used in a continuous form; we do not use verbs which express states this way. Verbs which describe actions (dynamic verbs) can be used in the continuous.

The following verbs are not normally used in continuous forms:

Mental and Emotional States
believe doubt feel (opinion) imagine
know (dis)like love hate
prefer realise understand know
realise recognise remember see (understand)
think understand want wish


Use of the Senses
appear hear look (seem) see
seem smell sound taste


Communication and Reactions
(dis)agree astonish deny impress
mean please promise surprise


be belong concern consist
contain depend deserve fit
include involve lack matter
measure(have length) need owe own
possess weigh    


Sometimes state verbs can be used in continuous forms when they have certain meanings. In other meanings it is not possible to use them in continuous forms. Look at the following examples:

Verb Simple forms Continuous forms
feel (to have an opinion) feel that this is the right thing to do.
feel (to feel sth.) How do you feel about me? I am not feeling very well today.
have (to possess) have a new car.
have (to eat) I always have lunch in that restaurant. am having dinner with Susan tonight.
see (to understand) Oh, I see.
see (to meet someone) I often see Susan at the shops. am seeing Susan tonight.
think (to believe) think you are right.
think (to think about) I must think about that. I am thinking about what you said.