"How are you feeling today?"

"Are you seeing him?"

"I'm feeling well."

"The car is standing in the garage."

Are those examples all grammatically false? If they are not, how can I determine if a stative verb may have a progressive form? Is there somewhere a list listing all those exceptions I could study?

  • 4
    One comment, "Strictly, we should not talk of 'state verbs' and 'event verbs', but rather of 'state' and 'event' meanings or uses of verbs. It would be inconvenient, however, to avoid the expressions 'state verb' and 'event verb' altogether. These useful labels are retained here, but it must always be remembered that they are convenient labels, for what would be more precisely designated 'verb being used to refer to an event' and 'verb being used to refer to a state'." --Meaning and the English Verb by Geoffrey N. Leech. Commented May 10, 2015 at 21:30
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    Are you seeing him? Here, see is not really a stative verb but a dynamic verb (akin to Are you going out with him? or Are you hanging (out) with him?). This corresponds with @Damkerng T.'s comment about how a verb is used.
    – user6951
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 19:22
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    Whereas Are you seeing him? could also be a stative use if used in the context of a person looking through a telescope in an attempt to see a certain male figure (him). But do you see him? works just as well. I've shared elsewhere that the use of statives in the progressive is on the increase; ultimately what determines 'grammaticality' is whether native speakers can 'accept and endure' and use such constructions.
    – user6951
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 19:27
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    When you use a verb that is usually stative in a progressive construction, you're using it as a dynamic verb. It's possible with almost any stative verb, but for certain verbs the dynamic uses are more restricted than others.
    – user230
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


I am guessing you're working from one of the beginner's guides that I am spotting with a quick web search.

They are lacking in precision and strict correctness, as you are seeing from these examples: your sentences are all valid and in fact quite common, almost idiomatic.

I believe Damkerng's comment, if I am understanding it correctly, has the right explanation for this: that the verbs themselves really do not fall into such neat categories in the first place, and it's only the context that determines what usage is acceptable. It's seeming as though only careless prescriptivists and oversimplified beginner's tutorials even try to make this distinction at all: other languages make a sharp distinction, but English not so much.

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    Can you perhaps give an example? Commented May 13, 2015 at 18:04
  • @ClassicEndingMusic: This answer gives (by my count) four; is that not enough? Commented May 13, 2015 at 18:06
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    Well, can you explain your few examples a little such that I can grasp your thinking leading to a better understanding in using the progressive form of stative verbs? Commented May 13, 2015 at 18:16
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    @ClassicEndingMusic: In each of the examples, there's no actual progress going on, with the possible exception of the last ("as you are seeing"): it's a simple statement of a fact that is presently true and should remain true at any notional time continuing into the future. So labeling them "present progressive" does not actually seem to be a useful category at all: they're present continuous. Commented May 13, 2015 at 18:26

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