Stative Verbs | List, Examples & Definition

Verbs updated on  February 5, 2024 5 min read
Stative verbs (sometimes called state verbs) describe a state, condition, or perception. The state can be physical, mental, or emotional (e.g., “be,” “believe,” “love”).

In contrast, action verbs (aka dynamic verbs) describe an action carried out by or on the subject (e.g., “eat,” “throw,” “run”).

Examples: Stative verbs
I think he’s the one.
She has a nice car.
The coffee tastes delicious.

What are stative verbs?    

Stative verbs (aka state verbs) describe the state, condition, or perception of the subject, while action verbs (aka dynamic verbs) describe an action performed by or on the subject.

Some verbs can be either stative or dynamic depending on whether they are describing an action or a state.

Examples: Stative and dynamic verbs
My shirt smells funny.
The dog smelled the flowers.

One difference between stative and dynamic verbs is that continuous tenses are usually incorrect for stative verbs, regardless of whether they describe a long-term state or a temporary perception. The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you catch this and other mistakes.

Examples: Stative verbs and continuous tenses
I believe in fairies.
I am believing in fairies.

I saw a shooting star.
I was seeing a shooting star.

Note
Exceptions to the rule of not using stative verbs in continuous tenses include the stative verbs “feel” (e.g., “I’m feeling ill”) and “look” (e.g., “it’s looking good”). It's also common for stative verbs that mean "become" to be used in continuous tenses (e.g., “I'm getting tired”).

You might hear some other stative verbs used in continuous tenses in casual speech, often for emphasis (e.g., “I am loving this game” or “are you seeing what I’m seeing?”).

The simple tense is never incorrect for stative verbs, so use this if you’re ever in doubt.

Stative verbs vs linking verbs

Linking verbs are also stative verbs, but not all stative verbs are linking verbs.

Stative verbs that aren’t linking verbs are often transitive, that is, followed by a direct object (e.g., “I have two cats”). They can also be intransitive (e.g., “I agree”).

Linking verbs, on the other hand, are always followed by a subject complement (e.g., a predicate nominative) that describes, identifies, or redefines the subject.

Examples: Stative verbs and linking verbs
She loved the book. (stative)
Her favorite book was Great Expectations. (stative and linking)

Note
To determine whether a verb is a linking verb, you can replace it with a conjugated form of “be” to see if it still makes sense. If so, even if the meaning is slightly different, it’s probably a linking verb as well as a stative verb. If not, it’s a stative or action verb.

He appeared sad. → He was sad. (stative and linking verb)
He resembled her. → He was her. (stative verb)

Stative verbs examples

Stative verbs for opinions, thoughts, and emotions

Our personal beliefs, feelings, and opinions are often unconsciously processed or outside of our control; they aren’t deliberate actions. And although they can change over time, they’re usually long-lasting and don’t have a fixed end point.

Examples: Stative verbs for opinions, thoughts, and emotions
My sister thinks the blue dress looks better.
I want to visit Iceland.
He believes in Santa Claus.

Note
“Think” and similar verbs can be action verbs when referring to the deliberate mental processing of something rather than an opinion. For example, “we are thinking about moving to France.”

Stative verbs for senses and perceptions

Sense verbs like “taste,” “smell,” and “feel” can be either action verbs or stative verbs.

If a sense verb is describing a quality of something (e.g., how it smells or sounds) or a sense someone is passively experiencing, it’s a stative verb.

If it’s describing a deliberate action, even if it’s to do with the senses, it’s an action verb.

Examples: Stative and action verbs to describe senses
The stew tastes good.
I tasted paprika in the stew. [I involuntarily experienced the taste of paprika]
I tasted the stew to see how the flavor was.

Stative verbs for possession

Possessing something is a state rather than an action. Stative verbs of possession can describe ownership, relationship, or what something includes.

Examples: Stative verbs for possession
I have three brothers and three sisters.
The tour includes free chocolate tasting.

Stative verbs for characteristics or composition

Stative verbs can describe the physical qualities, cost, or composition of something (e.g., “measure,” “resemble,” “contain”).
Examples: Stative verbs for characteristics or composition
Our dog weighs 30 kilograms.
Our trip will cost $500 each.
The alloy consists of copper, nickel, and zinc.

Stative verbs for existence or other conditions

There are a few other stative verbs that don’t fit neatly into the other categories but still describe a state or condition of the subject.

Examples: Other stative verb
My mother is a teacher.
You deserve each other.
This means war.

Stative verbs list

Below is a list of common stative verbs split into categories. Remember that many of these verbs can also be action verbs depending on the context.

Category

Verbs

Examples

Opinions and thoughts

Agree Appreciate Believe Disagree Doubt Imagine Know Mind Prefer Realize Recognize Remember Support Suppose Think Understand Value

I doubt they will mind.
They know how to get there.
I value your opinion.

Emotions

Adore Detest Dislike Envy Fear Hate Hope Like Loathe Love Need Want Wish

I detest avocado.
Guillaume hoped he would pass his exam.
Dominik envied Bella’s confidence.

Senses

Appear Feel Hear Look See Seem Sense Smell Sound Taste

The magician appeared to have sawn the woman in half.
He felt happy to be alive.
The movie looked interesting.

Possession

Belong Have Include Lack Own Possess

We belong together.
The dance lacked sophistication.
The principal owns over 300 pairs of shoes.

Composition and characteristics

Comprise Consist Contain Cost Equal Measure Resemble Span Weigh

The cake contains milk, eggs, and nuts.
The Severn Bridge spans the River Severn.
His skill will never equal yours.

Existence or other conditions

Be Become Concern Deserve Involve Matter Mean Promise Require Signify

This concerns all of us.
Doing the right thing matters even if no one else sees it.
Writing a novel involves a lot of editing.

Stative verbs exercises

Test your understanding of stative verbs with these exercise questions.

Do you want to know more about commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Commas

Parts of speech

Commonly confused words

Comma before because

Nouns

Flier vs flyer

Comma before such as

Collective nouns

Its vs it’s

Comma splice

Verbs

Use to or used to

Comma before or after but

Noun clauses

Alright vs all right

Comma before too

Predicate nominative

Affective vs effective


Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between stative and dynamic verbs?

Stative verbs (aka state verbs) describe a state, condition, or perception. The state can be physical, mental, or emotional (e.g., “be,” “believe,” “love”).

Dynamic verbs (aka action verbs) describe an action carried out by or on the subject (e.g., “eat,” “throw,” “run”). The action can be cognitive or sensory as well as physical (e.g., “he is thinking about buying a house,” “she looked at the schedule”).

Some verbs can be either dynamic or stative depending on whether they are describing an action or a state.

Is cost a verb?

“Cost” can be either a noun or a verb.

As a noun, “cost” can refer to the money needed to buy or do something (e.g., “the cost of housing is too high”) or the loss something requires or results in (e.g., “the war was won, but at the cost of many lives”).

As a verb, “cost” is usually a transitive and stative verb used to describe the price of something or the loss resulting from something (e.g., “her new suit cost $500,” “her credit card debt cost her her marriage”).

In professional environments, “cost” can be used as an action verb meaning to calculate how much something will be (e.g., “we need to cost the new project”). The simple past tense of “cost” in this context is “costed.”

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Sophie Shores

Sophie has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Publishing, and a passion for great writing. She’s taught English overseas and has experience editing both business and academic writing.

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