Stative vs. Active Verbs
Verbs can be divided into two groups: stative verbs, and active verbs.
Stative verbs are verbs that describe a state (something that is true, or not changing).
Stative verbs generally do not take …ing.
– examples of stative verbs
– examples of sentences using stative verbs
I am angry. (OK)
I am being angry. (not OK)
He will be angry. (OK)
He will be being angry. (not OK)
She was angry. (OK)
She was being angry. (not OK)
I like tennis. (OK)
I am liking the tennis. (very unusual)
He will like tennis after watching a few games. (OK)
He will be liking tennis. (not OK)
She liked tennis. (OK)
She was liking tennis. (not OK)
I have a small apartment. (OK)
I am having a small apartment. (not OK)
He will have a small apartment (OK)
He will be having a small apartment. (not OK)
She had a small apartment. (OK)
She was having a small apartment. (not OK)
The most key exception
Have (owning something) does not usually take -ing.
However, ‘have + noun’ as a phrase often does take -ing:
have a party (having a party is OK)
have a meeting (having a meeting is OK)
have a good time (having a good time is OK)
It is not impossible to use -ing with stative verbs (for example, it is often used in songs to emphasise the action, not the state). It is, however, rare, and only used when emphasising the action.
I have been loving you all my life, why have you never loved me.
They have been hating me every day since I became famous, but I don’t care.
(note: active verbs are sometimes called ‘dynamic verbs’ or ‘action verbs’)
Active verbs are ‘doing’ verbs, that can be started and stopped.
Most verbs are active.
Active verbs can take …ing.
– examples of sentences using active verbs:
I eat potatoes four times a week.
I am eating potatoes.
He will eat potatoes.
He will be eating potatoes.
She ate potatoes.
She was eating potatoes.
I fly planes for a living.
I am flying a plane.
He will fly a plane.
He will be flying a plane.
She flew a plane.
She was flying a plane.
I talk on the phone every day.
I am talking.
He will talk on the phone.
He will be talking on the phone.
She talked on the phone.
She was talking on the phone.
1. Based on stative and active verbs, which of these sentences are wrong?
(i) I am knowing you for 3 years.
(ii) He is running very fast.
(iii) She is drinking whisky.
(iv) Humans are having two arms and two legs.
(v) She is having a party.
2. Make 3 sentences using stative verbs (remembering they don’t often take -ing)