State Verbs in English With Examples and Solved Quiz

Hello dearest readers! This time we are going to look at State Verbs. Most verbs can be used in the simple (for habit and fact) or the continuous (for something happening now, around now, temporary activities or future arrangements).

Look at the following examples:

1. He often plays football. (Present Simple habit)

2. He is playing football. (Present Continuous for something happening now.)

These verbs are called action verbs.

State or Stative Verbs

State means staying the same. State verbs alsi known as stative verbs describe states (situations), rather than activities. They aren’t used in the present continuous (or any continuous form).

State verbs include:-

1. Verbs of the head e.g. believe, know, understand, think (for opinion), suppose, expect, agree, doubt, remember, forget, mean, imagine, realise, deserve and prefer.


I understand French but I can’t speak it very well. I’m understanding French… is wrong!

2. Verbs of the heart e.g. like, love, adore dislike, hate, care, hope, wish, want and admit.


I love watching football on T.V. I’m loving watching football… is wrong! (From a grammar point of view, the Mac Donald’s slogan “I’m loving it” is wrong!)

3. Some verbs of the senses e.g. feel, smell, taste, and hear and look.


This cake tastes delicious. This cake is tasting delicious is wrong!

4. Verbs of possession e.g. have, own, possess and belong.


This dictionary belongs to Tatiana. This book is belonging to Tatiana is wrong!

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5. Other verbs of being e.g. weigh, contain, cost, seem, appear and need, which obviously aren’t actions.

Watch out for some of these verbs which can be used to describe actions as well as states. When they are describing an activity, they can be used in the continuous.



1. I think watching too much T.V. is a waste of time. In this sentence, think is being used to express an opinion. It is a state verb so can’t be used in the continuous.

2. I am thinking about moving to Cape Town. In this sentence, think is not an opinion, it’s a mental activity. I am thinking about moving to Cape Town now, so present continuous is the correct tense to use. In this sentence, Thinking means considering.



1. The freshly baked bread smells delicious. In this sentence, smell is a state verb. It is referring to a situation rather than an action.

2. Maria is smelling rose. In this sentence smell is an activity. Maria has her nose close to the rose and is going sniff, sniff, sniff… (Taste and feel can also be used to describe states and actions.)



1. Tom has a new car. In this sentence, have is being used for possession, so it is a state verb.

2. We are having breakfast at the moment. In this sentence, having means eating. It is being used to describe an action and doesn’t have anything to do with possession. Many activities are referred to using have, e.g. She is having a bath. /They are having a party. /We are having fun.

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Now try Grammar Quiz as below to see how much you have absorbed!


Test your knowledge on State Verbs versus Action Verbs. Remember some State Verbs can also describe actions. Decide which of the two sentences is correct. Put a circle around your answer, A or B.


A. Sandra has a new car.

B. Sandra is having a new car.


A. Benny is tasting the coffee to see if he needs to put more sugar in it.

B. Benny tastes the coffee to see if he needs to put more sugar in it.


A. The cake is tasting delicious.

B. The cake tastes delicious.


A. The children play with the dog at the moment.

B. The children are playing with the dog at the moment.


A. I think organic vegetables are too expensive.

B. I’m thinking organic vegetables are too expensive.


A. I’m thinking about buying a new computer.

B. I think about buying a new computer.


A. Annie is understanding everything the teacher says.

B. Annie understands everything the teacher says.


A. We are enjoying our holiday. We are coming home next Friday.

B. We enjoy our holiday. We are coming home next Friday.


A. Chris is weighing 70 kg.

B. Chris weighs 70 kg.


A. I don’t know the answer.

B. I’m not knowing the answer.


A. Maria is busy, she cooks dinner.

B. Maria is busy, she is cooking dinner.


A. I am hating travelling by train!

B. I hate travelling by train!


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A. This T.V. is costing R6000.

B. This T.V. costs R6000.


A. The puppy’s skin feels smooth.

B. The puppy’s skin is feeling smooth.


A. I am wanting to go on holiday.

B. I want to go on holiday.

Answers 1.A, 2.A, 3.B , 4.B , 5.A, 6.A , 7.B, 8.A , 9.B, 10.A , 11. B , 12.B, 13.B 14.A, 15.B

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