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Stative Verb

In linguistics, a stative verb is one that describes a state of being, in contrast to a dynamic verb which describes an action. The difference can be categorized by saying that stative verbs are static or unchanging throughout their entire duration, whereas dynamic verbs describe a process that changes over time.

Learning to use stative verbs

The stative verb is a common part of English grammar that is used to describe existing states of affairs. Unlike other verbs, the stative verb does not describe an action. It simply describes how things are. 

The stative verb is most commonly used to describe feelings, perceptions, or relationships between one noun and another noun. 

The stative verb is usually utilized in simple verb tenses and almost never utilized in the progressive tenses. 

Proper usage and rules to remember

Here is an example of the stative verb being used correctly within a sentence. 

"The man told his friend that he appreciated everything she had done for him while he was suffering from depression." 

In this sentence, the word "appreciated" is a stative verb that is properly expressing an emotional relationship. 

Now, here is an example of the stative verb being used in an incorrect way

"I am smelling something very good in the kitchen; is that what we will be eating for dinner this evening?"

In this sentence, "am smelling" is an awkward stative verb construction. It should just say smell. 

In case you would like further information about the stative verb, here are a couple rules you can follow when trying to make use of this grammatical form. 

  1. The stative verb always expresses a state of being, whether physical, emotional, or perceptual. In principle, it is used in much the same way that all other verbs are used. The unique feature of the stative verb, though, is that it only expresses a state of being, and not some other form of action. 
  2. This is also probably why the stative verb cannot be used in the progressive tenses. The "being" that is indicated by those tenses is already implied by the very structure of the stative verb. This is why formulations such as "I am seeing" or "I am smelling" are awkward within the English language. 

Stative verb's roots in psychology

The fact that the stative verb is a kind of verb implies awareness (often found in cultural hierarchy) that to "be" a certain way, or to persist in having a certain sensory, psychological, or relational experience, is itself a kind of action in its own right. One of the most common uses of the stative verb is to report one's sensory perceptions to others, or to describe how one person or another is feeling.

It is easy to see how this was likely connected with one of the most primitive functions of language when it first emerged within the human species. Describing states of being logically comes before describing changes in those states of being through the specific actions signified by other verbs than the stative verb. 

Again, the stative verb cannot be used in the progressive tenses. This is likely due to the issue of redundancy. That is, the progressive tenses primarily convey a sense of immediacy and ongoing action; but the stative verb already signifies this through implication.

A state of being is almost by definition an ongoing action, and the fact that the stative verb primarily reports feelings and perceptions also makes the use of the verb immediate almost by definition. In a way, then, the stative verb construction subsumes some of the functions of the progressive tenses, which is why it would be inappropriate in English to use the stative verb in progressive conjugations. 

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