State verbs, dynamic verbs in English

Use of state verbs

Not every verb can be used in a progressive form. We do not use verbs which express situations in these forms. But we often use verbs which express actions (dynamic verbs) in progressive forms.

The following verbs are not normally used in progressive forms:

  • agree
  • be
  • like
  • hate
  • hear
  • imagine
  • know
  • need
  • prefer
  • promise
  • realize
  • remember
  • see.

Sometimes verbs can be used in progressive forms when they have certain meanings. In other meanings it is not possible to use them in progressive forms. Watch the following examples:

Verb Simple forms Progressive forms
feel (to have an opinion) I feel I should go on holiday. ---
feel (to feel sth.) How do you feel when you are on holiday? How are you feeling today?
have (to possess) I have a new computer. ---
have (to eat) I always have a cola for lunch. I am having dinner right now.
see (to understand) Oh, I see. ---
see (to meet someone) I often see Mandy at the disco. I am seeing Peter tonight.
think (to believe) I think you should see a doctor. ---
think (to think about) I have to think about it. I am thinking about my girlfriend now.

The Progressive form can also be used although the signal word always tells to use the Simple form. This is done with things that happen unexpected or are not planned. Sometimes the speaker expresses an uneasy feeling. Here are some examples:

His face always turns red when he is speaking.

My dad is always losing his keys.

We are always meeting our teacher in the supermarket.


Thanks to Daniel.