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Verbs with different meanings when they are states and actions

By Matthew, September 15 2015, 06:05
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Cristoph via Flickr
Some verbs can talk about a state or describe an action, but the meaning changes.

Remember that state verbs talk about how things are. They describe a state or condition. Dynamic verbs talk about actions and change. They describe what happens. Some verbs can can be used both to talk about a state and an action. However, the meaning of the word changes.



  • [Dynamic] I am having lunch now. = I am eating lunch now.

  • [State] I have a car. = I possess/own a car.


  • [Dynamic] I am seeing my friends in the evening. = I am meeting my friends in the evening.

  • [State] I see why that is a problem. = I understand why that is a problem.


  • [Dynamic] The man is weighing the fruit = The man is measuring the weight of the fruit.

  • [State] The man weighs 75kg. = The man's weight is 75kg.


  • [Dynamic] I am thinking about my future. = I am considering my future.

  • [State] I think that is a great idea! = My opinion is that is a great idea.

Other words that can be used in this way are appear, be, costexpectfeelfit, hear, imaginelook, smell, and taste.


When you use the dynamic meaning of the verb, you can use both the continuous or the simple form of the verb.

  • I am having lunch now. and
  • I have lunch every day at the same cafe.

The state meaning of the verb is almost always never used with a continuous form.

  • I have a car not I am having a car.
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    I specialize in teaching English to professionals and English teachers. I have taught English since 2001 in Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. I speak Japanese & Portuguese. I am the founder of Poligo and The English Farm (an online school for business English).

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