Stative verb

Stative verb

A stative verb is one which 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; they have no duration and no distinguished endpoint. Verbs which are not stative are often called dynamic verbs.


Examples of sentences with stative verbs::I am tired.:I have two children.:I like the color blue.:I think they want something to eat.:We believe in many Gods...:The case contains six bottles.:This would imply that we didn't care.

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 generally denote states rather than actions. However, it should be noted that 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:

:You are being silly.:She is having a baby.:Quiet please, I am thinking.

Some languages morphologically distinguish stative and dynamic verbs, or transform one into another. Arabic, for example, can use the same verbal root to mean "ride" (stative) and "mount" (dynamic).

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").

tatic versus dynamic

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 (if 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 Danish.

Formal definitions

In some theories of formal semantics, including David Dowty's, stative verbs have a logical form which is the lambda expression

:lambda (x): [operatorname{STATE} x]

Apart from Dowty, Z. Vendler and C. S. Smith have also written influential work on aspectual classification of verbs.


Dowty's analysis

Dowty gives some tests to decide whether an English verb is stative. They are as follows:

*Statives do not occur in the progressive (the * before a sentence means that it is ungrammatical or absurd to most native English speakers):
**"John is running." (non-stative)
**"*John is knowing the answer."
* They cannot be complements of "force":
**"I forced John to run."
**"*I forced John to know the answer."
*They do not occur as imperatives.
**"*Know the answer!"(This is not entirely accurate; the phrase "Know thyself!", for example, is correct English.)
*They cannot appear in the "pseudo-cleft construction":
**"What John did was run."
**"*What John did was know the answer."

ee also

*Dynamic verb


* [ David Dowty's home page] (Ohio State University, Department of Linguistics)

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Look at other dictionaries:

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