How to Understand State Verbs

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Do Not Add -ING to State Verbs

Usually, we add -ING to verbs to indicate that an action is continuous, but state verbs already describe continuing states so there is no need to add -ING. That’s why we don’t use state verbs in Continuous tenses, such as Past Continuous, Present Continuous, Future Continuous, etc.

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Categories of State Verbs

As state verbs describe different states, here are some ways in which we can categorise them:

  • Emotion adore, care, desire, dislike, hate, hope, like, love, mind, need, prefer, want, wish
  • Senses hear, look, see, smell, taste
  • Mental States agree, appear, astonish, believe, concern, deny, disagree, doubt, feel (meaning: to be of an opinion), know, mean, promise, realise, recognise, remember, suppose, think, understand
  • Possession belong, consist, contain, have, include, involve, own, possess
  • Other States cost, depend, fit, measure, matter, owe, seem, weigh

Exceptions

Some verbs have one stative meaning and a different active meaning. To help you remember these, keep in mind the difference between states (something that just is) and actions (something that has to be actively done) while reading through the examples below:

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Summing up

The main thing to remember in order to differentiate between state and active verbs is to ask yourself, is this verb a state or an action? If it is a state, you will not add an -ING to the verb.

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