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Stative and Dynamic Verbs

Verbs in English can be classified into two categories: stative verbs and dynamic verbs. Dynamic verbs (sometimes referred to as "action verbs") usually describe actions we can take, or things that happen; stative verbs usually refer to a state or condition which is not changing or likely to change. The difference is important, because stative verbs cannot normally be used in the continuous (BE + ING) forms. This will explain the differences between the two types of verb, and give lots of examples of each kind.

Dynamic verbs
There are many types of dynamic verbs, but most of them describe activities or events which can begin and finish. Here are some examples:

Dynamic Verb play


Examples She plays tennis every Friday. She's playing tennis right now. The snow melts every spring. The snow is melting right now. When one boxer hits another, brain damage can result. (This suggests only ONE punch.) When one boxer is hitting another, brain damage can result. (This suggests MANY repeated punches.)





momentary action

Dynamic verbs, as you can see from the table above, can be used in the simple and perfect forms (plays, played, has played, had played) as well as the continuous or progressive forms (is playing, was playing, has been playing, had been playing).

Stative verbs
Stative verbs usually refer to a state or condition which is quite static or unchanging. They can be divided into verbs of perception or cognition(which refer to things in the mind), or verbs of relation (which describe the relationships between things). Here are some examples:

Stative Verb hate believe contain own

Type perception perception relation relation

Examples I hate chocolate. She believes in UFOs. The box contains 24 cans of soda. Yong owns three motorbikes.

Note that we CANNOT use these verbs in the continuous (progressive) forms; you CAN'T say "*Yong is owning three cars." Owning is a state, not an action, so it is always in the simple form.

Example verbs
Here some common stative and dynamic verbs. The lists may help you to understand what types of verbs are likely to be stative and what types are commonly dynamic.

Stative Verbs love hate like see hear sound think (meaning "have an opinion") mind (meaning "care about") recognize seem have (meaning "own") prefer doubt consist of mean

Dynamic Verbs eat drink go type read write listen speak watch say grow work sleep cook talk

Seem(S), read(D), paint(D), believe(S), smell(S), change(D), remember(S), understand(S), jump(D), want(S)

Each sentence has four underlined sections; your task is to identify the section with a grammar mistake -- in other words, the section which is wrong.
I play tennis every Tuesday. Last week, I was playing with John, a man I am knowing from work, when a bird flew into the tennis net. (am knowing)

Mohammed owns two different houses. He likes to live in his house by the sea when the weather is good, but in the winter heis preferring to live in the city. ("Prefer" is a stative verb, so it shouldn't be used in

continuous forms.)

While Keiko was fixing the car, I was making the supper. By six o'clock I had been working for eight hours, so I was needing a good meal.( Needing something is a state, so we don't use this
verb in the continuous form.) When I called Sarah, she said she watched TV, so she didn't want to come out with me, so I went to the pub alone. (This should be in the progressive form; Sarah said that she WAS WATCHING TV

at that time. "Watch" is not a stative verb, so it can be in the progressive form.) I don't understand stative and dynamic verbs. They seem very confusing. I am hating them, because they are driving me crazy! (Hate" is a stative verb; it describes a state of mind. We don't usually use it in the progressive form.)

Grammar Exercise: Using Gerunds

For each question, change the sentence so that it uses a gerund, like this: It is important to study hard. --> Studying hard is important.

1. It is difficult to read Japanese. Reading Japanese is difficult. 2. It is essential for a business person to have a laptop computer. Having a laptop computer is essential for a business person. 3. It is depressing to be poor. Being poor is depressing. 4. It was exciting to climb the Eiffel Tower. Climbing the Eiffel Tower was exciting. 5. It will be hard to pass the test. Passing the test will be hard.

Gerunds and Infinitives Introduction

Here is a brief review of the differences between gerunds and infinitives.
Gerunds are formed with ING: walking, talking, thinking, listening Infinitives are formed with TO: to walk, to talk, to think, to listen

Gerunds and infinitives can do several jobs: Gerunds and infinitives can do several jobs:
Both gerunds and infinitives can be the subject of a sentence:: Writing in English is difficult. To write in English is difficult. Both gerunds and infinitives can be the object of a verb:: I like writing in English. I like to write in English.

Only gerunds can be the object of a preposition:: We are talking about writing in English.

It is often difficult to know when to use a gerund and when to use an infinitive. These guidelines may help you:
Gerunds are often used when actions are real, concrete or completed:: I stopped smoking. (The smoking was real and happened until I stopped.) Infinitives are often used when actions are unreal, abstract, or future:: I stopped to smoke. (I was doing something else, and I stopped; the smoking had not happened yet.)

Cloze Exercise: Gerunds and Infinitives

Yuri was in his first year at university, studying History. He was rather a lazy student, and he tended to avoid (work) {Working} whenever he could. In the middle of the semester, his history professor gave out an assignment, due in two weeks. Yuri intended (do){to do} the assignment, but he postponed (write){writing} it for a week. The following week, he forgot (do){to do } it. The night before the assignment was due, he suddenly remembered it, and rushed to the library. He tried (read){to read} as much as possible on the topic, but there wasn't enough time. Yuri considered (ask) {asking} for more time to do his paper, but the History professor was known to be very tough on students, so finally he decided (cheat) {to cheat} and copy his paper from somewhere else. He found an old article on the same topic, and quickly typed it out. The next day, he submitted the paper. The following week, he was alarmed (see){to see} the professor approaching him, looking angry. "Is this your own work, or did you copy it?" asked the professor. Yuri denied (copy) {copying} the paper. "If you expect me (believe) {to believe} that, you must be very stupid," said the professor. "Every word is taken from an article I wrote myself five years ago. Did you really think I would forget (write){writing} it?"