All verbs in English are classified as either stative or action verbs (also referred to as 'dynamic verbs'). Action verbs describe actions we take (things we do) or things that happen. Stative verbs refer to the way things 'are' - their appearance, state of being, smell, etc. The most important difference between stative and action verbs is that action verbs can be used in continuous tenses and stative verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses.
verbs of sense perception:
see, hear, taste, feel, smell, sound, notice
verbs of feelings and emotions:
admire, adore, appreciate, care for, detest, dislike, forgive, hate, like, loathe, love, mind (care), respect, value
appear (= seem), apply to (to be true to, to have reference to), compare, concern (to be of importance), cost, depend on, deserve, differ from, interest, seem, hold (=contain), keep (=continue), matter, measure, resemble, stand for, weigh, allow, astonish, claim, fail to do, forbid, forgive, manage to do, need, prevent, puzzle, result, require, satisfy, signify, feel, succeed, suit, surprise
Note 1:Sometimes in informal situations stative verbs are used in the continuous tenses:
a) in highly emotional contexts to express great intensity of feeling:
∑ Don't shout! I am hearing you quite well.
∑ Are you still remaining my friend?
b) to emphasize the idea of change or development (a gradual change in the quality or intensity of the idea expressed by the verb).
∑ These days, more and more people prefer/are preferring to take early retirement.
∑ The water tastes/is tasting better today.
∑ As I get older, I remember/am remembering less and less.
∑ I am liking it here more and more as the time goes by.
∑ I am loving this music.
V. A verb can have several meanings only one of which makes it a stative verb. In other meanings such a verb may be freely used in the Present Continuous.
Use in the Present Simple
Use in the Present Continuous
be= character, permanent state
She is (habitually) silly.
be = behave
She is being silly.
have = possess
He has a house in the country.
have = experience
We are having problems with the new employee.
have = give
They are having a party tomorrow.
have = take
She is having a shower/ a lesson/ a meal.
see = understand
I see what you mean.
see = use the power of sight
Do you see the ship?
see = meet by appointment
I am seeing my doctor tomorrow.
see = visit as a tourist
Tom is seeing the sights.
see=go out with
Iím seeing a new man at present.
see about = make arrangements or enquiries
We are seeing about a work permit for you.
see to = arrange, put right, deal with
The plumber is here. He is seeing to a leak in our tank.
see smb home/out /to some place = escort
Is Bill seeing you home after the party? - No, he is just seeing me to the bus.
see smb off Ė say good-bye to a departing traveller at the starting point of the journey
Bill is seeing us off to the airport.
hear = perceive with the ears
Do you hear someone laughing?
hear = listen formally to
The court is hearing evidence this afternoon.
hear = receive news (only in the Present Perfect Continuous and the Future Continuous)
I've been hearing all about your accident.You'll be hearing about the new scheme at our next meeting.
think = have an opinion
I think it's a good idea.
think = a process of thought
What are you thinking about?
expect = believe
I expect that I shall be back on Sunday.
expect = await
I am expecting a letter.She is expecting a baby in May.
feel = be in a certain state
I feel hungry/happy/comfortable.AlsoHow are you feeling? (in the medical sense)
feel = be (a link verb)
Your hands feel cold.
feel = sense
Do you feel the house shaking?
feel = think
I feel you are wrong.
feel = touch
The doctor was feeling her pulse.
feel = try to find
He was feeling for the keyhole in the dark.
look = be (a link verb)
That cake looks good.
look = a deliberate action
What are you looking at?
look for = search
I am looking for a better job.
smell = be (a link verb)
Does it smell sour?
smell = perceive a scent
I smell gas.
smell = sniff at
Why are you smelling the milk?
taste = be (a link verb)
This coffee tastes bitter.
taste = taste the flavour of
She was tasting the pudding to see if it was sweet enough.
appear = seem
She appears to be in the office.
appear = to come before the public
She has been appearing in many plays recently.
weigh = have a weigh of
The chicken weighs 2 kilos.
weigh = measure how heavy smth is
The butcher is weighing the meat.
fit = be the right size
The skirt fits her perfectly.
fit = install, attach
John is fitting a new lock on the front door.
admire = have a high regard for
I admire this masterpiece.
admire = look at with admiration
Quiet! He is admiring the painting.
consider = have an opinion
I consider him quite efficient.
consider = study
They are considering this project now.
come = be descended from
He comes from a rich family.
come = approach
Look! Our bus is coming.
correspond = have a close similarity
Her expression is concerned but her body-language does not correspond.
correspond = communicate by exchanging letters
Are you still corresponding with your former boyfriend?
Note 1: The verbs look (when we refer to a personís appearance), feel (=experience a particular emotion), hurt and ache can be used in either the continuous or the simple tenses with no difference in meaning.
Note 2: The verb enjoy can be used in continuous tenses to express specific preference.
Iím enjoying the party a lot.
I enjoy going to parties.
Note 3: The Continuous tenses are chiefly used for deliberate actions. Those which mean involuntary actions are used in simple tenses. Can is often used with see, hear, feel, taste, smell, understand and remember to give a kind of continuous meaning.