What Are Action and State Verbs?
Based on what kind of meaning a verb denotes, there are mainly two types of verbs:
- action verbs
- state verbs
Basically, action verbs indicate some sort of movement. State verbs do not indicate any movements.
Action verbs (also called dynamic verbs) indicates an action that a person or an animal or an object performs either physically or mentally (but mostly physically). Most verbs in the English language are action verbs.
Here in the example, they are performing a physical action.
State verbs (also called stative verbs) describe a state or the way something is. It does not refer to an action a person or object is doing. Only a few verbs are considered state verbs.
These verbs often show things that do not change and are almost always the same. They refer to:
- Feelings and emotions
As you know, 'like' describes a feeling toward someone or something.
- Mental actions and state of being
- Possession and owning
State verbs indicate a mental state that has no start or finish. By itself, a state verb has a sense of continuity. Therefore, you cannot usually use continuous tenses with state verbs.
Some state verbs do not take continuous tenses.
'm having two brothers.")
am being tired now.")
'm knowing this man.")
Verbs That Can Be Both
The Verb 'Have'
One such verb is 'have'. When 'have' means 'to own' it is a state verb. But when it means 'to eat, drink, take etc.' it is an action verb.
'Have' indicates ownership, here.
'Have' indicates eating, here.
The Verb 'Think'
Like the verb 'have', 'think' can have different meanings. When it means 'to believe', it is a state verb and we should not use it in the continuous tense. But when 'think' means 'to reflect or consider' it is an action verb, because you can stop or start thinking about something at any time you want.
'Think' means 'to believe' here.
She has been
It means she is considering his marriage proposal.
Verbs of Senses
Verbs like 'smell, taste, see, feel, hear' can be both state or action verbs. For example, we use 'smell' as a state verb to describe how somebody or something smells and what's their odor. But 'smell' can also be an action verb describing the act of smelling something.
'Smell' refers to her odor, here.
Other Verbs like 'Live' and 'Work'
Verbs like these can be considered action verbs or state verbs depending on the context. It really doesn't matter whether you use them in a simple tense or continuous one. They are both correct.
The present perfect tense emphasizes the result of an activity in the past; In contrast, the present perfect continuous tense emphasizes the duration of an activity in the past.
The present continuous is used to indicate that the action is still happening, but the present perfect shows that the action is finished and now the doer has the experience.
The Miracle of Slang Language
Nowadays you may see breaking the rule of not using continuous tense with state verbs. For example, the sentence 'I'm loving it!' is technically wrong, but we use it in colloquial or slang language.
Based on what kind of meaning a verb denotes, there are mainly two types of verbs.
|action verbs||indicate an action that a person or an animal or an object performs either physically or mentally.|
|state verbs||describe a state or the way something is.|
Common State Verbs
|feelings and emotions||like, love, hate, etc.|
|senses||hear, smell, sound, etc.|
|mental actions and being||Is, are, etc.|
|possession and owning||have, has, etc.|
There are some verbs that can be both state and action verbs.