Dynamic & Static Verbs

Dynamic verbs describe action and can be used with continuous tense while Static verbs refer to a state or condition (non-action) and will remain in the simple tense and cannot normally change to continuous tense unless there is a change in the meaning.

Dynamic Verbs

  • Peter and Jane are walking to the park
  • They walk everyday
  • It is their habit to go walking daily
  • They walked yesterday and they will walk again tomorrow
  • They were walking this morning and had walked their target of 1 kilometer

You will notice from the above examples, that dynamic verbs can be used in simple and perfect tense forms (walk, walked, have walked, had walked) and the continuous or progressive forms (are walking, were walking, have been walking, had been walking).

Some examples of dynamic verbs are: eat, run, listen, call, drink, read, jump, play, watch, talk, grow, sleep, cry, laugh, cook, sew etc.

Static Verbs

Some examples of static verbs are: hate, love, like, see, hear, sound, seem, prefer, believe, contain, own, belong, mean, consist of, recognize, think (as in having an opinion), mind (as in care about), have (as in own) etc.

  • She hates cat.
  • Edward loves ice cream.
  • I like Korean movies.
  • Do you own a car?
  • The luggage contains clothes only.
  • She believes in you.

The above sentences show either a perception or a relation to the subject which has no action. Note that you cannot use static verbs in a continuous tense eg the sentence “She is believing in you” is out of context. The word “believe” is a state, not action therefore it should stay in the simple tense.

If you say “I have a dog”, you are describing your relationship to the dog, therefore you can’t say “I am having a dog” to mean the same. You can however say “I am having a dog to keep me company”, here, the meaning of verb “having” may mean “you are buying or you are taking or you are adopting a dog to keep you company” and therefore has change the meaning to become an action verb.