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State Verbs

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There are some verbs in English that do not take the continuous form even if the continuous form is normally used in that situation. We call these verbs state verbs.

So, we say I'm sorry, I don't understand' and not 'I am not understanding'.

State verbs are verbs which are normally connected to opinions or thinking.
She doesn't know what to do not 'she isn't knowing what to do.'
Do you agree with me? not 'Are you agreeing with me?'
I believe he's right not 'I am believing he's right'.

There are state verbs that are connected with emotions:
I like this song not 'I am liking this song.'
Do you want to go out? not 'Are you wanting to go out?'
I hate the way he speaks to her not 'I am hating the way he speaks to her.'

Enjoy is a verb expressing emotion but it can be used in the continuous form.
'I’m really enjoying myself here' and 'I really enjoy summer.'

 'see', 'hear', 'taste', 'smell', 'feel' are verbs that describe senses.
These verbs aren't usually used in continuous forms.
He smells of cigarettes not 'He is smelling of cigarettes.'

State verbs are verbs that describe things that are not actions.
I think we should go to Spain for our holiday this year.
Sorry, I wasn't listening. I was thinking about my holiday.
In the first sentence 'think' is an opinion. In the second sentence 'was thinking' is an action.

Lesson by Tristan, English teacher at EC Malta English school

Decide which the correct sentence in each pair is:

  • 1. Which sentence is correct?

  • 2. Which sentence is correct?

  • 3. Which sentence is correct?

  • 4. Which sentence is correct?

  • 5. Which sentence is correct?

  • 6. Which sentence is correct?

  • 7. Which sentence is correct?

  • 8. Which sentence is correct?