Hi! here I come with a new question: I´ve been always told that stative verbs cannot appear in a progressive tense, but now I quote what I found yesterday in one of my books:

Stative verbs: they do not admit the progressive aspect.
- Verbs of inert perception and cognition, e.g. think, believe, like, love, see, feel, forgive, hear, remember, smell and wish...

- Relational verbs, e.g., belong, cost, depend, need, owe, own, posses, resemble...
They may occasionally indicate an activity and be used in the progressive form.

So, my question is: When can they be used in the progressive form, as the explanation quote above does not solve this for me? Also, could you please give any examples?

Big thanks to all those who reply in advance.

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Comments  (Page 4) 
As an ESL teacher, I have run into the dynamic-stative continuous form problem regularly. My colleagues and I disagree. The way I explain this concept to my students is by trying to clarify that there are two kinds of grammar in the English language.( If one wants to get philosophical, I'm sure there are many 'grammars' if one wants to get into an ethnolinguistic argument and the legitimacy of dialect as language.) The two kinds of grammar: descriptive(the language people use, slang, ebonics) and prescriptive (the rule book based on Latin grammar ideology) follow different rules. I explain to them that English grammar rules were imposed rules based on Latin rules. English is primarily teutonic (though mixed with French) thus Latin 'rules' don't necessarily match the structure of the language. Stative verbs used in the continuous form seem to be popular in everyday language; casual interaction, general 'grammar rule' breaking the creates bonds between people; like slang or using a vulgar word with a close friend. So, stative verbs in a continuous form seem to make a 'social statement' ; a suggestions of closeness or a mutual 'secret' breaking of a social rule....an effective advertising campaign. When I teach my students, I clarify that stative verbs in a continuous form are casual...spoken..with equals or within closer relationships. Otherwise, in written form, one follows the rule to not use the stative in the continuous sense unless used as a dramatic or literary device.
I'm sorry, but I find your argument quite overbuilt (with some glaring holes) and its conclusion inaccurate. Stative verbs when they can acceptably occur in continous aspect are common in both casual and more formal English and tend to express heightened interest-- for whatever reason-- in the activity. No more and no less.
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Mister MicawberStative verbs when they can acceptably occur in continous aspect are common in both casual and more formal English and tend to express heightened interest-- for whatever reason-- in the activity. No more and no less.
Is that where "I'm lovin' it" is pigeonholed, or is it just a barbarism?
It is not a barbarism when its creator can do this:

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Hi everybody

I'm an English teacher from Israel. The rules are very simple - e.g. If the stative verb is an opinion, don't use it in a progressive form. Example: "I think this site is great".

If it's a real action use it any way you like (including the progressive form)

Example: "He's so sad. He's still thinking about his beloved pet." Here we can actually see the person's sad face (It has nothing to do with an opinion)

Another example:

These flowers smell great - opinion which is always stative

She's smelling the flowers now (action which can be seen) not stative

Your idea sounds practical - opinion - therefore stative

The driver is sounding his car horn - actual action - not stative.

There are many other verbs which have two meanings e.g. look, see, feel etc. The same idea applies there.

You look handsome. - stative opinion

Why are you looking at me?

I hope I've helped you


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  • I as a native speaker would never and I mean never, say "I was knowing something wasn't right", in this case I would say "I was THINKING something wasn't right". In fact I really don't believe that your first statement is grammatically correct. If you were 'knowing' something, it would be something you KNEW.

So called 'stative verbs' may be used in progressive aspect ANY TIME. Actually, the one who insists they may not, does not understand grammar.

In fact, 'progressive aspect' is what is known around globe as 'imperfect aspect': the aspect that describes processes, durations and continuities, the aspect for which the information whether the action was completed or not is not needed.

'Stative verbs' are those that not only are not alien to imperfect aspect, but vice versa, they are the very essence of imperfect aspect for 'states' being nothing else than processes and durations. Have a look into any 'aspectful' world's grammar and you'll see, that 'stative verbs' are very welcome in imperfect aspect in any language.

The reason why 'stative verbs rule' was born in the crookedest possible way lies in origin of the inventor of splitting the English verbs into 'stative" and 'active', which entailed the emergence of the said rule. Zeno Vendler is of Hungarian-German-American origin. Hungarian, German and English languages are virtually the only European languages that do not have the category of aspect. He didn't have a clue about aspects (neither was supposed to have one), but created a rule that relates to aspect in all possible ways and that was followed by people blindly.

Whether to follow this rule or not can be understood very easily. Look at two verbs: 'to know' and 'to wait'. Both of them are 'stative', but while 'to know' is 'strictly forbidden' to be used in progressive tenses, 'to wait' is more than welcome in them.

Stative verbs rule ruins English grammar.
The previous comment is mine.
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What you seem to fail to realise is that when native speakers speak languages they don't follow any rules because for the most part native speakers don't know them. I bet that if you mentioned the name of Zeno Vendler in the company of native speakers of English none of whom are linguistis that would be the first time all of them would be hearing that name.

The reason why 'stative' verbs tend not to be used in progressive tenses is because of their semantics - they already describe states and thus there is no need to add the extra aspect.

Also the distinction between wait and know that you mention is the distintion in semantics, waiting is perceived as an active deliberate process while with knowledge you either know something or you don't
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