Term of Art: Stative Verb

“Stative Verb: A category of verb that contrasts with dynamic verb in the aspect system of a language, and relates to state and not action: in English such verbs as belong, love. Syntactically, these verbs are used in simple rather than progressive tenses and generally not in the imperative (not Belong!, but occasionally Love me!). Semantically, stative verbs refer to states of affairs (belong, know, own) in contrast to dynamic verbs that refer to actions (buy, learn, jump). In practice, the boundary between stative and dynamic verbs is sometimes fuzzy and it is generally more useful to talk of stative and dynamic meaning and usage. In most varieties of English, some verbs are normally stative (therefore not I am owning this car, Know how to give first aid!), but others are partly stative and partly dynamic (not She is liking to help people, but How are you liking your new job?; not I am forgetting their address, but Forget it!). Some verbs belong to both categories but with distinct meanings, as with have in She has red hair and She is having dinner. In Indian English, the stative/dynamic distinction described above is considered standard, but it is widely ignored, so that expressions like I am owning this car and She is liking to help people are commonplace.”

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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