definition of Wikipedia
A stative verb is one that asserts that one of its arguments has a particular property (possibly in relation to its other arguments). Statives differ from other aspectual classes of verbs in that they are static; that is, they have undefined duration. Verbs that are not stative are often called dynamic verbs.
Examples of sentences with stative verbs:
In languages where the copula is a verb, it is a stative verb, as is the case in English be. Some other English stative verbs are believe, know, seem, and have. All these in general denote states rather than actions. However, verbs like have and be, which are usually stative, can be dynamic in certain situations. Think is stative when it means "believe", but not when it means "consider". The following are not stative:
Propositions that are expressed in most Indo-European languages by noun qualifiers (such as adjectives) are instead expressed by stative verbs in many other languages. In Japanese, so-called i-adjectives are in fact best analyzed as intransitive stative verbs (for example, takai alone means "is high/expensive", and samukunakatta means was not cold).
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.
in an upright position)
(i.e., be on fire)
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.
|English grammar series|
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.)
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