|Activity Verbs |
I am begging you. I was learning French. They will be playing upstairs..
Virtually identical in meaning to simple tense forms:
I beg you. I learned French. They will play upstairs.
The corn is growing rapidly. Traffic is slowing down.
Virtually identical in meaning to simple present tense forms:
The corn grows rapidly. Traffic slows down.
|Verbs of Bodily Sensation |
"I feel bad" and "I am feeling bad" are virtually identical in meaning.
|Transitional Events Verbs |
Progressive forms indicate the beginning of an event,
as opposed to the simple present tense.
"She was falling out of bed [when I caught her]" as opposed to
"She falls out of bed every night."
|Momentary Verbs |
Progressive forms indicate little duration and suggest repetition.
She is hitting her brother.
He is jumping around the house.
|Verbs of Inert Perception and Cognition|
I detest rudabaga, but not I am detesting rudabaga.
I prefer cinnamon toast, but not I am preferring cinnamon toast.
|Relational Verbs |
I am sick, but not I am being sick.
I own ten acres of land, but not I am owning ten acres.
My brother owes me ten dollars" but not
My brother is owing me ten dollars.
Kolln suggests that we think of the difference between stative and dynamic in terms of "willed" and "nonwilled" qualities. Consider the difference between a so-called dynamic adjective (or subject complement) and a stative adjective (or subject complement): "I am silly" OR "I am being silly" versus "I am tall." I have chosen to be silly; I have no choice about being tall. Thus "tall" is said to be a stative (or an "inert") quality, and we cannot say "I am being tall"; "silly," on the other hand, is dynamic so we can use progressive verb forms in conjunction with that quality.
The same applies to verbs. Two plus two equals four. Equals is inert, stative, and cannot take the progressive; there is no choice, no volition in the matter. (We would not say, "Two plus two is equalling four.") In the same way, nouns and pronouns can be said to exhibit willed and unwilled characteristics. Thus, "She is being a good worker" (because she chooses to be so), but we would say "She is (not is being) an Olympic athlete" (because once she becomes an athlete she no longer "wills it").