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IV. Verbs not Used in the Continuous Form

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
verbs denoting mental activity and opinion: agree, assume, believe, expect (= think), feel (=think), forget, know, mean, object, perceive, realize, recall, recognize, recollect, remember, see (understand), trust, understand, remind
verbs denoting wish: wish, want, desire, prefer
verbs of possessing: have, owe, own, possess, belong to, lack, include
verbs of existing or being: be, consist of, contain, exist
verbs denoting abstract relations: 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.


Verb Use in the Present Simple Use in the Present Continuous
be be= character, permanent state She is (habitually) silly. be = behave She is being silly.
have 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 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 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 think = have an opinion I think it's a good idea. think = a process of thought What are you thinking about?
expect 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 feel = be in a certain state I feel hungry/happy/comfortable. Also How 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 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 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 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 appear = seem She appears to be in the office. appear = to come before the public She has been appearing in many plays recently.
weigh weigh = have a weigh of The chicken weighs 2 kilos. weigh = measure how heavy smth is The butcher is weighing the meat.
fit fit = be the right size The skirt fits her perfectly. fit = install, attach John is fitting a new lock on the front door.
admire admire = have a high regard for I admire this masterpiece. admire = look at with admiration Quiet! He is admiring the painting.
consider consider = have an opinion I consider him quite efficient. consider = study They are considering this project now.
come come = be descended from He comes from a rich family. come = approach Look! Our bus is coming.
correspond 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.

He is listening to the radio. I hear nothing.

I can see Sue coming down the road.

Can you smell something burning?


Date: 2015-12-17; view: 1193

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