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Grammar: Present Time And Stative Verbs

Present Simple 

The present tense is the base form of the word.

➮I walk
➮You sing
➮We run
➮He cuts
➮She loves
➮It comes
➮We look
➮They sleep

Present Progressive

The present continuous is made from the present tense of the verb be and the –ing form of a verb:

➮I am sleeping
➮You are talking
➮He is running
➮She is sitting
➮It is coming
➮We are looking
➮They are leaving


Stative Verbs

They express a state -not an action- and are not used in Progressive Tenses.

Verb of the senses:
feel, hear, see, smell, taste, notice, etc.

Wrong:I am hearing you.
Correct:I hear you.

Verbs of emotions and preferences:
like, dislike, love, hate, fear, mind, want, wish, need, prefer, admite, etc.

Wrong: I am wanting it.
Correct: I want it.



Verbs of perception, belief, knowledge, ownership:
think, believe, know, understand, expect, remember, forget, hope, have, own, belong (to), etc.

Wrong: I am remembering your name.
Correct: I remember your name.

Other verbs which describe permanent states:
be,cost, weigh, seem, appear, consist (of), etc. 


Some stative verbs can be used in the progressive forms when they express actions rather than states, but with a difference in meaning.

State: They have a wonderful house.
Action: I am having a bath.

State: I see Mary coming towards us.
Action: I am seeing the doctor tomorrow.

State: I think she is clever.
Action: I am thinking of buying a new car.

State: Do I smell smoke?
Action: Why are you smelling the milk? Do you think it is gone off?

State: He is very selfish. (that is his character)
Action: Why is he being selfish? (why is he behaving so selfishly?)

Listenlook and watch, though verbs of the senses, can also be used in the progressive tenses because they express voluntary actions.



James is watching the new.
She is looking our way.
I am listening to you.

Stative Verbs

Stative, or non action verbs do not express action.  They express a state or condition, and usually only occur in the Present Simple.  When they do occur in the Present Progressive, there is often a difference in meaning.

Some common stative verbs are:

Attitudes and Emotions

  • love, like, hate, dislike, fear
  • want, need, prefer, appreciate
  • doubt, wish, care, mind, promise, deny, concern

Belief and Knowledge

  • believe, know, think, feel (= opinion), hope, doubt, imagine
  • mean, understand, realize, suppose, guess
  • remember, forget, agree, disagree

Descriptions and measurements

  • be, appear, look (= seem), look like, seem, resemble
  • sound, sound like
  • weigh (have weight), measure (have length), cost
  • fit, contain

Possession and Relationships

  • have, own, possess
  • owe, belong, depend on
  • include, contain, consist of


  • see, hear, smell, taste, feel
  • ache, hurt, burn, itch, sting

 He owes me money.      ✘ He’s owing me money.

 They seem happy.         ✘ They are seeming happy.

 I forget his name.           ✘ I’m forgetting his name.

 She knows the answer.  ✘ She is knowing the answer.


Some verbs can be both stative and active, with a difference in meaning.

Present Simple (stative)                                                     Present Progressive (active)

I think this is delicious (belief)                 We’re thinking about moving (mental activity)

It weighs a lot (measurement)                   I’m weighing it on the scale (physical activity)

She has six cats (possession)                                        She’s having a bad time (experience)

He has a nice house (possession)                        He’s having lunch with Jennifer (eating)

This soup tastes great (it has a certain flavour)       The chef is tasting the soup (action)

I smell something gross (it has a certain smell)           I’m smelling each flower (action)

I see him (he’s over there)                                    I’m seeing him (I’m dating / meeting him)


The “be” verb is usually stative, but when it’s used in the continuous it suggests temporary, or atypical behaviour.

Present Simple (stative)                                                     Present Progressive (active)

My kids are good. (they’re always good)  My kids are being good! (usually they are bad)

You are stupid (it’s part of your personality)                      You are being stupid (only now)

He wears nice clothes (all the time)                       He’s wearing nice clothes (only today)