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State Verbs

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"This shirt costs $50."

"This shirt is costing $50."

Which is correct? Why?

The first sentence - "This shirt costs $50" - is correct because the price of the shirt is fixed; it's a fixed state and therefore we use a state verb, costs.

Costing can not be used for a fixed state because the ...ing means that something is happening now and it will change soon. It would therefore be correct to say "I am buying a shirt" because you are buying it now; soon the action the action will be finished. Likewise, we can not say "I buy a shirt" for a present, temporary, situation. State verbs are used to describe actions which don't change: "I owe you $5" - you either owe someone money or you don't. That's why we can't say "I am owing you $5".

Read through the examples below and choose the correct verb form:

If you want more information on state verbs, try this lesson!

  • I ___ two brothers.

  • Do you ___ her?

  • She ___ winter to summer.

  • They ___ to music.

  • I am ___ the paper.

  • I ___ tired.

  • What are you ___?