Spoken+Grammar Bundle

Mohammad Abdullah,

Verbs of possession and attribution:-

Possession and attribution are static actions, not dynamic ones. Verbs that refer to ownership are considered stative and do not take the continuous form. For example: 

“I have a large house.”

“She owns three cars.”

“That stereo belongs to me.”

“They have a large family.”

“He holds several postgraduate degrees.”

“She possesses a great wealth of knowledge.”


Using the continuous form:-

We often find some of these verbs used in the continuous forms, but their meanings are different and they are functioning as action verbs instead, as in:

  • “You’re not holding on to the hammer tight enough!” (Hold means “to grip with one’s hands” in this context.)
  • “He thinks that a ghost is possessing” (Possess means “to gain control or power over” in this context.)
  • “She’s having a baby in a few months.” (Have means “to give birth to” in this context.)
  • “They’re having a party next door.” (Have means “to arrange or carry out” in this context.)

However, if the verb is indicating possession or attribution, we cannot use it in a continuous form: 

✖ “I am having a large house.” (incorrect)

✖ “She is owning three cars.” (incorrect)

✖ “That stereo is belonging to me.” (incorrect)

✖ “They are having a large family.” (incorrect)

✖ “He is holding several postgraduate degrees.” (incorrect)

✖ “She is possessing a great wealth of knowledge.” (incorrect)


Verbs of cognition

Verbs of mental cognition, such as understand, know, recognize,, or think, are generally used as stative verbs and do not take continuous forms. For example: 

  • “I understand the issue.” (correct)
  • “I am understanding the issue.” (incorrect)
  • “She knows Janet very well.” (correct)
  • “She is knowing Janet very well.” (incorrect)


Using the continuous form

Some verbs of cognition can be stative or dynamic, depending on the context. If they can correctly be used in a continuous form, they are expressing a dynamic action. For example:

  • “I consider my options before I make a decision.”
  • “I am considering my options before I make a decision.” (correct—action verb)
  • “I consider myself a rational person.”
  • “I am considering myself a rational person.” (incorrect—stative verb)
  • “They thought of an answer.”
  • “They were thinking of an answer.” (correct—action verb)

 The stative verb understand, however, has some informal uses in which the continuous form is often considered acceptable, as in:

  • “I’m sorry, I’m not understanding your question.”
  • Am I understanding you correctly?”


Verbs of states or qualities

Besides the linking verb be and the verbs of the senses, we can use other verbs, such as weigh, depend, involve, owe, or consist, to describe the state or qualities of something. For example: 

  • “He weighs 160 pounds.” (correct)
  • “He is weighing 160 pounds.” (incorrect)
  • “This report involves multiple sites across the world.” (correct)
  • “This report is involving multiple sites across the world.” (incorrect)
  • “Your happiness depends on doing something you enjoy.” (correct)
  • “Your happiness is depending on doing something you enjoy.” (incorrect)
  • “John owes me 20 dollars!” (correct)


✖ “John is owing me 20 dollars!” (incorrect) 

  • “The book consists of research from several prominent scientists.” (correct)
  • “The book is consisting of research from several prominent scientists.” (incorrect)


Using the continuous form

Some of these verbs can be dynamic or stative, depending on the context and the way they are used. When the verb is describing an attribute of the subject, it functions as stative verb (as we saw above). When the verb describes an action taken by the subject, though, it is functioning as an action verb, as in: 

  • “He is weighing each bag before delivery.”
  • “I am involving a number of people in this project.”

The phrasal verb depend on, however, is always stative, but we often find it being used in the continuous form, especially when its subject is a person. For instance:

  • “We are depending on you to get this done in time.”



  1. Which of the following is the function of a stative verb? 
  • To describe a dynamic action taken by the subject
  • To describe a condition that must be met for something to happen
  • To describe the subject’s state of being
  • To modify the meaning of other verbs

 2. In general, which of the following is something a stative verb cannot do?

  • a) Be used as a gerund
  • Be used in a continuous form
  • Be used in the future tense
  • Take a direct object


  1. Which of the following cannot be used as a stative verb?
  • think
  • seem
  • exercise
  • have


  1. Which of the following is not another name for stative verbs?
  • State verbs
  • Non-continuous verbs
  • Non-progressive verbs
  • Non-finite verbs


  1. True or False: The linking verb be is always considered a stative verb?
  • True
  • False


Source:- The Farlex English Grammar Book By Peter Hering