|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2013)|
A stative verb is one that describes a state of being, in contrast to a dynamic verb which describes an action. The difference can be categorized by saying that stative verbs are static or unchanging throughout their entire duration, whereas dynamic verbs describe a process that changes over time. Many languages distinguish between these two types in terms of how they can be used grammatically.
The same verb may act as stative or dynamic. An English phrase like "he plays the piano" may be either stative or dynamic, according to context.
Some languages use the same verbs for dynamic and stative situations, while other use different (but often etymologically related) verbs with some kind of qualifiers to distinguish between the usages. A stative verb is often intransitive, while a corresponding one would be transitive. Compare, for example, modern English with modern Swedish and German.
in an upright position)
(i.e., be on fire)
Some languages even make distinction when dealing with stative and dynamic verbs in sentences. In German, for instance, several prepositions (Wechselpräpositionen - "changing prepositions") take different noun cases when accompany stative and dynamic verbs. For stative verbs, dative case is taken, whereas the accusative case is taken by the preposition when describing a dynamic verb. For example:
The same scheme also applies in stative and dynamic verbs in general, i.e. when the verb is stative (albeit the dynamic counterpart is non-existent), the preposition will always take dative, and vice versa.
Additionally, in English and many other languages, stative and dynamic verbs differ in whether or not they can use the progressive aspect. Dynamic verbs such as "go" can be used in the progressive (I am going to school) whereas stative verbs such as "know" cannot (*I am knowing the answer). In other languages statives can be used in the progressive as well: in Korean, for example, the sentence 미나가 인호를 사랑하고있다 (Mina is loving Inho) is perfectly valid.
In some languages stative and dynamic verbs will use entirely different morphological markers on the verbs themselves. For example, in the Mantauran dialect of Rukai, an indigenous language of Taiwan, the two types of verbs take different prefixes in their finite forms, with dynamic verbs taking o- and stative verbs taking ma-. Thus, the dynamic verb "jump" is o-coroko in the active voice, while the stative verb "love" is ma-ðalamə. This sort of marking is characteristic of other Formosan languages as well.
In English, a verb that expresses a state can also express the entrance into a state. This is called inchoative aspect. The simple past is sometimes inchoative. For example, the present-tense verb in the sentence "He understands his friend" is stative, while the past-tense verb in the sentence "Suddenly he understood what she said" is inchoative, because it means "He began to understand". On the other hand, the past-tense verb in "At one time, he understood her" is stative.
Likewise, in Ancient Greek, a verb whose imperfect expresses a state (e.g., ebasíleuon "I was king") may use the aorist to express entrance into the state (e.g., ebasíleusa "I became king"). But the aorist can also simply express the state as a whole, with no focus on the beginning of the state (eíkosi étē ebasíleusa "I ruled for twenty years").
Apart from Dowty, Z. Vendler and C. S. Smith have also written influential work on aspectual classification of verbs.
Dowty gives some tests to decide whether an English verb is stative. They are as follows:
(The phrase "Know thyself!" is imperative, but it uses the archaic "know" as a dynamic verb.)
Stative verbs are often divided into sub-categories, based on their semantics or syntax.
Semantic divisions mainly involve verbs that express someone's state of mind, or something's properties (of course, things can also be expressed via other language mechanisms as well, particularly adjectives). The precise categories vary by linguist. Huddleston and Pullum, for example, divide stative verbs into the following semantic categories: verbs of perception and sensation (see, hear), verbs of hurting (ache, itch), stance verbs (stand, sit), and verbs of cognition, emotion, and sensation (believe, regret). Novakov, meanwhile, uses the slightly different categories: verbs denoting sensations (feel, hear), verbs denoting reasoning and mental attitude (believe, understand), verbs denoting positions/stance (lie, surround), and verbs denoting relations (resemble, contain).
Syntactic divisions involve the types of clause structures a verb may be used in ("*" indicates ungrammatical sentences):
John believes that Fido is a dog. *John believes on Fido barking. John believes Fido to bark.
*Joan depends that Fido is a dog. Joan depends on Fido barking. *Joan depends Fido to bark.
Jim loathes that Fido is a dog. *Jim loathes on Fido barking. *Jim loathes Fido to bark.
Here you can share your comments or contribute with more information, content, resources or links about this topic.