State or Stative verbs

State or stative verbs are those which express feelings, emotions or states (e.g want, like, believe etc). They do not show actions that can be seen. State verbs do not have continuous tenses (only the corresponding simple ones). So, if we want to say that something is happening at the moment using a state verb, we must put it in the present simple instead of present continuous.

 Example: Do you want to go out now?

State verbs are:

  1. Verbs that express likes or dislikes: love, like, prefer, dislike, don’t mind, don’t like, hate, can’t stand etc.
  2. Verbs of the senses: see, hear, smell, taste, sound etc.
  3. Verbs of perception: know, believe, understand, realize, remember, forget etc.
  4. Other verbs: contain, include, seem, be, belong, fit, need, want, wish etc.

Some of the verbs can have two meanings- one as a state verb and the other as an active verb.

  State verb
(can have only simple tenses)
Active verb
(can be used in all tenses)
1. Think = believe (I think your car is nice.) 1. Think= consider (I am thinking  about buying a new car.)
2. See=use my eyes (I see your house from here.) See=understand (I see what you mean.)2. See=meet (I am seeing my friends tonight.) See = imagine (It is not a ghost, you are just seeing things.)
3. have = own, possess (We have a beautiful villa at the seaside.)   3. have in a phrase with a meaning different than own(I am having lunch)
4. taste = is, has the flavor of        (This cake tastes delicious.) 4. Taste = try (She is tasting the soup to see if it is OK.  
5. smell = is, has a smell (Your perfume smells nice.) 5. Smell = sniff (She is smelling the roses.)
6. fit = is the right size (The top fits you perfectly.) 6. fit = put, install  Dad is fitting new cupboards in the kitchen)
7. appear = seem (Anna appears to be ill.) 7. appear=perform (He is appearing at the theatre tonight)

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