Stative Verbs and
Dynamic Verbs (Action Verbs)

English verbs can be divided into stative verbs and dynamic verbs (also called action verbs). Let's go over each group.

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Stative Verbs

Stative verbs are verbs that express a state rather than an action.

be, seem, love, own, want, sound, have, know, understand.

Emily is sad.

Examples sentences:
  • She is a great wife.
  • He seems rather strange.
  • He wanted to see you.
  • That sounds awesome!
  • We have enough things to do.

Stative verbs are usually not used in the progressive tenses.

Incorrect: He is wanting to see you.
Correct: He wants to see you.

Incorrect: I am knowing what to do.
Correct: I know what to do.

Incorrect: They are seeming nice.
Correct: They seem nice.

However, if the same verb is used to describe an actual action (not a state), then it can be used in the progressive tenses.

When the verb "have" means "own" – it is a state. So we do not use it in the progressive tenses.

Incorrect: I am having a laptop.
Correct: I have a laptop.

When the verb "have" means "eat" – it is an actual action. So we can use it in the progressive tenses.

Correct:am having lunch with Kate.
Correct: I have lunch with Kate.

Dynamic Verbs

Dynamic verbs are the opposite of stative verbs. They express a real action.

Jump, swim, catch, write, call, sleep, hit, open, speak.

John cries.
John cries

Example sentences:
  • They swam to the other side.
  • She hit me on the head!
  • Open the window, please.
The dynamic verbs can be used in the progressive tenses.

Correct: He is drinking water.
Correct: He drinks water.

More examples and stative/dynamic verbs exercises

Click here for further explanations, examples and exercises on English dynamic verbs and English stative verbs.

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