What is the difference between ‘Stative’ and ‘Dynamic’ Verbs?

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Verbs (which describe an action, or an act of doing something) can be divided into what they state (stative), or activity they describe (dynamic).

State and Dynamic Verbs

What is a stative verb?

Stative Verbs – also sometimes described as State Verbs – are usually used in the simple tenses (Simple Past, Simple Present, and so on). Normally, they are not used with continuous tenses (Present Continuous, Past Continuous).

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What is a Dynamic Verb?

Dynamic verbs are those that are action verbs, while Stative usually describe the act of feeling or liking something.

Examples (list) of Stative Verbs

like know belong
love realise fit
hate suppose contain
want mean consist
need understand seem
prefer believe depend
agree remember matter
mind recognise see
own appear look (=seem)
sound taste smell
hear astonish deny
disagree please impress
satisfy promise surprise
doubt think (=have an opinion) feel (=have an opinion)
wish imagine concern
dislike be have
deserve involve include
lack measure (=have length etc) possess
owe weigh (=have weight) guess

Examples of Stative Verbs and their use in sentences

  • Lara wants a new iPad. (Incorrect: Lara is wanting a new iPad.)
  • Jack hates the rain because he gets wet. (Incorrect: Jack is hating the rain because it makes him wet.)
  • Michael prefers coffee to tea. (Incorrect: Michael is preferring coffee to tea.)
  • The box weighs 100 kilograms. (Incorrect: The box is weighing 100 kilograms.)

Examples of Dynamic Verbs (Activity Verbs)

  • Learn – I am learning to play the piano.
  • Ask – Can I ask you a question?
  • Call – Please give me a call back when your meeting is finished.
  • Drink – I am drinking my coffee at the moment.
  • Eat – I eat three full meals a day.
  • Help – Can I help you?
  • Play – Let’s play PS4 this afternoon.
  • Read – I am reading David Mitchell’s new book.
  • Throw – Don’t throw the ball at the window, it will break!
  • Work – I am working on a new software for the design industry.
  • Grow – The new puppy is growing so quickly.
  • Arrive – We arrived at the station in time to catch the train.
  • Fall – He fell into a puddle.
  • Die – I am dying to eat some mangoes.
  • Hit – The tennis players were hitting the ball to each other for a long time.
  • Jump – I am going to jump in the shower and I’ll see you in one hour.
  • Kick – He kicked the ball over the fence into the neighbour’s garden.
  • Knock – We knocked on the door but no one answered so we left.
  • Fall – The keys probably fell out of your pocket while you were running.
  • Change – The seasons are changing due to climate change.

 

But wait.. aren’t some verbs BOTH Dynamic and Stative?

To Be

Yes some verbs are both dynamic and stative, for example, the verb To Be – when we use this in the dynamic sense it means acting or behaving in a certain way.

Stative: You are clever = this is a fact.

Dynamic: You are being clever = You are trying to be too smart (not usually, but right now).

To Have

Stative: I have a new PS5.

Dynamic: I am having my birthday party this weekend and want to invite you if you’re free. (In this case “I am having” works as a future tense something taking place at a future time).

To Taste

Stative: Lunch yesterday tasted absolutely amazing.

Dynamic: The robot was looking at his screen.