State Verbs in English

In English, verbs can be divided into two types - those that mean some kind of action (read, go, eat, create, etc.) and those that describe the state of a person or object (smell, like, feel, etc.). Today we are going to talk just about the second type, which is called State Verbs.

What is so special about them, why were they identified into a whole separate group? Since they do not convey the meaning of the action, they also have a grammatical peculiarity in use - the state verbs do not have the continuous form.

I like ice cream. (Now or at all, the form will always be Present Simple)

State verbs also have several subgroups (united by a certain general meaning), which makes memorizing them easier:

1. Verbs that indicate preference, whether we like something or not: like, love, dislike, hate, enjoy, prefer, adore, etc.

She hates horror films.

2. Verbs of feelings, sensations: see, hear, smell, taste, feel, look, sound. Often, we use can or could with these verbs when we mean something that we see, hear, etc. now.

You are at home! I can hear your phone.

3. Verbs with the meaning of perception: know, believe, understand, realize, remember, forget, recognize, think, seem, see (= understand), expect (= think), etc.

I think we will be late for the concert.

4. And the words: be, contain, include, need, weigh, need, weigh, wish, hold (= possess), require, weigh, wish, keep (= continue).

Our family owns a restaurant.


However, sometimes these verbs can be in the form of continuous, when they describe an action, not a state, and when they are part of fixed expressions. For example:

1. I think you are wrong. (= believe)

I am thinking about our future steps. (= I am considering)

2. The cake tastes so good! (has a delicious taste)

Are you tasting my cake? (= physical process of tasting)

3. I can see a picture on the wall. (perceive it)

I don’t see your point. (don’t understand)

I am seeing my dentist next week. (I am meeting)

4. I have many books. (possess)

She is having breakfast. (eating)



1. The verb enjoy can be in the form of continuous when it comes to a certain preference:

We are enjoying this film. (specific preference)

They enjoy going to the cinema. (general preference)

2. Verbs look (when it comes to a person’s appearance), feel (describing a certain emotion), hurt, ache can be either in the form of continuous or simple without changing their meaning.

She looks / is looking cute today.


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