My friend had a homework exercise about stative verbs in their English class and asked me to help with it. The task was to mark sentences that were correct. There was one difficult sentence there:

I am preferring fish to meat.

In the other column, there was the same sentence in Present Simple:

I prefer fish to meat.

To me, it looks like the sentences are both correct. The latter means "I always/usually prefer fish to meat", the former means "Right now I am choosing fish, not meat, while I could usually prefer meat to fish.".

So, can I use "prefer" as a dynamic verb, meaning something along the lines of "choose", not "like"?

3 Answers 3


It’s not technically correct, as “prefer” refers more to what one is than what one does.

However, you do hear this kind of phrasing used colloquially quite a lot these days: Think McDonalds:

I’m lovin’ it


Native English speakers will not use your first construction.

It is not idiomatic although you hear it fairly often from people who are not native English speakers.

I prefer fish to meat is a universal statement. The speaker is talking about a general preference.

On any particular occasion the speaker would probably say:

I would prefer fish to meat

and NOT I am preferring fish to meat


Verbs are classified as stative because they are typically used for things that are presumed to be static, and the present simple is appropriate since it implies the past and future as well.

If you want to point out that the thing is not actually static, in theory you can use the present progressive instead. However, while this may be grammatically correct, it is so rarely appropriate that people may assume it is an error.

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