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  • English Dynamic and Stative Verbs With F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Broadly speaking, there are two types of verbs in English:

    Dynamic (action) verbs

    and

    Stative (passive) verbs

    Dynamic Verbs

    Dynamic verbs refer to an activity that is continued or progressive on the part of the subject. These verbs generally have a beginning and an end.

    Examples include:

    To play

    To hit

    To run

    To walk

    To jump

    To study

    To look

    Stative Verbs

    Stative verbs are the opposite of dynamic verbs. They refer to states that are unchanging and static and not actions. They can be divided into verbs of perception and cognition (things in the mind) and verbs of relation (describing the relationship between things). Stative verbs generally cannot be used in the continuous tense, although sometimes they are in English slang (example: The McDonalds commercial that says “I’m lovin’ it!”). Sometimes when used in the continuous tense, stative verbs can take on a new meaning. Seeing, for instance. If you say, “I am seeing Jane,” it doesn’t mean you are looking at her. It means you are dating her!

    Examples include:

    To like

    To love

    To hate

    To doubt

    To smell

    To wish

    To have

    To possess

    To understand

    To taste

    To see

    Below is an excerpt from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic short story The Diamond in the Ritz. Read it and pick out 5 examples of dynamic verbs and 5 examples of stative verbs.

    Long after midnight John’s body gave a nervous jerk, and he sat suddenly upright, staring into the veils of somnolence that draped the room. Through the squares of blue darkness that were his open windows, he had heard a faint far-away sound that died upon a bed of wind before identifying itself on his memory, clouded with uneasy dreams. But the sharp noise that had succeeded it was nearer, was just outside the room–the click of a turned knob, a footstep, a whisper, he could not tell; a hard lump gathered in the pit of his stomach, and his whole body ached in the moment that he strained agonizingly to hear. Then one of the veils seemed to dissolve, and he saw a vague figure standing by the door, a figure only faintly limned and blocked in upon the darkness, mingled so with the folds of the drapery as to seem distorted, like a reflection seen in a dirty pane of glass.

    With a sudden movement of fright or resolution John pressed the button by his bedside, and the next moment he was sitting in the green sunken bath of the adjoining room, waked into alertness by the shock of the cold water which half filled it.

    He sprang out, and, his wet pyjamas scattering a heavy trickle of water behind him, ran for the aquamarine door which he knew led out onto the ivory landing of the second floor. The door opened noiselessly. A single crimson lamp burning in a great dome above lit the magnificent sweep of the carved stairways with a poignant beauty. For a moment John hesitated, appalled by the silent splendor massed about him, seeming to envelop in its gigantic folds and contours the solitary drenched little figure shivering upon the ivory landing. Then simultaneously two things happened. The door of his own sitting-room swung open, precipitating three naked negroes into the hall–and, as John swayed in wild terror toward the stairway, another door slid back in the wall on the other side of the corridor, and John saw Braddock Washington standing in the lighted lift, wearing a fur coat and a pair of riding boots which reached to his knees and displayed, above, the glow of his rose-colored pyjamas.

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    • I could see how these would be helpful to actually hear articulated over Skype. What a great idea for teaching English. I wonder how second language learners could benefit from this type of education on a consistent basis in conjunction with other English teaching.