Non-Continuous Verbs

0
TongRo Images/ TongRo Images/ Getty Images

Many verbs are used in continuous tenses. These verbs are known as action verbs as they express something that is done. Here are some examples:

Present continuous - I'm working at the moment.
Past continuous - Jack was cooking dinner when I arrived.
Future continuous - I will be playing tennis this time tomorrow.
Present perfect continuous - She's been working here for three years.

Generally, continuous (or progressive) tenses are used to describe what is happening at a particular moment in time.

The focus when using continuous tenses is always on an action in progress. However, there are some important exceptions to using continuous tenses. Most importantly, there are a number of common non-continuous verbs that are never or rarely used with continuous forms. These verbs are called stative verbs and fall into a few categories:

Mental and Emotional States

believe - I believe what you say.
dislike - She dislikes eating pizza.
doubt - I doubt what you say is true.
imagine - He imagines he needs some time off work.
know - I know Tom very well. 
like - I like watching TV in the evening.
love - They love to visit friends. 
hate - I hate to see him suffer. 
prefer - They prefer to take tests on Monday.
realize - She realizes that it was her mistake. 
recognize - Peter recognizes his mistake. 
remember - I remember that day very well. 
suppose - I suppose you are right. 
understand - Tim understands the situation.


want - I want to wish you well. 
wish - I wish life were easier. 

Sense

appear - It appears to be finished.
hear - I hear what you are saying.
see - I see that it's difficult. 
seem - It seems rather simple to me. 
smell - It smells like a rat. 
sound - It sounds like a good idea. 
taste - It tastes like almonds.

Communication

agree - I agree we need to finish the project. 
astonish - He astonishes me every time.
deny - The criminal denies any wrong doing.
disagree - I disagree with what you say.
impress - He impresses his teachers at school.
mean - I mean that very honestly.
please - She pleases her students every day in class. 
promise - I promise I'm not telling a lie.
satisfy - She satisfies all the requirements.
surprise - It surprises me every time.

Other States

be - I'm a teacher.
belong - It belongs to Tom.
concern - It concerns all of us. 
consist - It consists of chocolate, cream and cookies.
contain - The letter contains a threat. 
cost - The jeans cost $100.
depend - It depends on how you look at it. 
deserve - You deserve much better. 
fit - That doesn't fit my schedule. 
include - The vacation includes all meals. 
involve - The job involves lots of travel.
lack - It lacks any meaning. 
matter - It doesn't matter what you think.
need - I need some time off. 
owe - He owes you a lot of money. 
own - I own a Porsche.
possess - Jack possesses all the right skills. 

Non-Continuous AND Continuous

There are also a number of verbs that don't take the continuous forms in one meaning but DO take the continuous forms in other meanings.

Here are some of the most important:

Non-Continuous Meanings

feel = 'have an opinion' - He feels he should get a second chance.
see = 'understand' - I see what you mean.
think = 'have an opinion' - I think we should leave immediately.
appear = 'look like' - That appears to be stale.
look = 'seem' - It looks impossible!
taste = 'have a taste' - That tastes yummy!

Continuous Meanings

feel = 'feel physically' - I'm feeling awful this afternoon.
see = 'visit' - She's seeing a doctor this morning.
think = 'use the brain' - He's thinking hard about the problem.
appear = 'be on stage / perform' - Jack Daniels is appearing at the Paramount tonight.
look = 'stare at' - I'm looking at that strange man.
taste = 'use the mouth' - The cook is tasting the sauce!

Stative / Active Verb Quiz

Check your understanding of the continuous and non-continuous use of these verbs by conjugating the verb in either the present continuous or the present simple based on whether the verb is expressing an action or a state in the following sentences.

  1. He _____ (feel) that you shouldn't worry too much about college now. He thinks you should just focus on doing well in high school.
  2. The Rock 'N Roll twins _________ (appear) this weekend at the Highland Concert Arena. 
  3. Could you be quiet? I ________ (think) about this math problem and I can't concentrate!
  4. The tiramisu _____ (taste) amazing! Could you give me the recipe?
  5. Who _____ you _____ at and why?!
  6. I think Peter _______ (see) Marcia at the moment. I've heard they're in love.
  7. I'm afraid that _____ (look) too difficult for me to do.
  8. Mary _____ (appear) to be very nervous about her job interview tomorrow.

Answers

  1. feels - In this case, the person is expressing an opinion.
  2. are appearing - This sentence refers to a performance and is used in the active sense.
  3. am thinking - This refers to the action of considering a problem.
  4. tastes - This refers to the actual taste, not the action of tasting something.
  5. are you looking at - Here the man is speaking about the action of watching someone.
  6. is seeing - In this case, Peter is dating Marcia.
  7. looks - In this case, 'look' is used to mean the same as the non-continuous verb 'appear'. 
  8. appears - Here, Maria seems to be nervous, so the verb 'appear' is non-continuous.