Dynamic Verbs





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Dynamic Verbs :


The progressive forms of a verb indicate that something is happening or was happening or will be happening. When used with the past, the progressive form shows the limited duration of an event: "While I was doing my homework, my brother came into my room." The past progressive also suggests that an action in the past was not entirely finished. (Compare "I did my homework." to "I was doing my homework.") This is even more evident in the passive progressive construction: "He was being strangled in the alley" suggests an action that was not finished, perhaps because the act was interrupted by a good citizen, whereas the simple past "He was strangled in the alley" suggests an action that was finished, unfortunately.

A neat categorization of the uses of the progressive can be found on the page describing the To Be Verb.

The progressive forms occur only with dynamic verbs, that is, with verbs that show qualities capable of change as opposed to stative verbs, which show qualities not capable of change.* For instance, we do not say, "He is being tall" or "He is resembling his mother" or "I am wanting spaghetti for dinner" or "It is belonging to me." (We would say, instead: "He is tall," "He resembles his mother," "I want spaghetti," and "It belongs to me.") The best way to understand the difference between stative and dynamic verbs is to look at a table that lists them and breaks them into categories and then to build some sentences with them, trying out the progressive forms to see if they work or not.

These categories and lists are derived from Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum's A University Grammar of English (used with the publisher's permission). The examples are our own. The lists are not meant to be complete.

DYNAMIC VERBS

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.
abandon
ask
beg
call
drink
eat
help
learn
listen
look at
play
rain
read
say
slice
throw
whisper
work
write
Process Verbs
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.
change
deteriorate
grow
mature
slow downwiden
Verbs of Bodily Sensation
"I feel bad" and "I am feeling bad" are virtually identical in meaning.
achefeelhurtitch
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."
arrive
die
fall
land
leavelose
Momentary Verbs
Progressive forms indicate little duration and suggest repetition.
She is hitting her brother.
He is jumping around the house.
hit
jump
kick
knock
nodtap

STATIVE VERBS

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.

abhor
adore
astonish
believe
desire
detest
dislike
doubt
feel
forgive

guess
hate
hear
imagine
impress
intend
know
like
love
mean

mind
perceive
please
prefer
presuppose
realize
recall
recognize
regard
remember

satisfy
see
smell
suppose
taste
think
understand
want
wish

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.

be*
belong to
concern
consist of
contain
cost

depend on
deserve
equal
fit
have
include

involve
lack
matter
need
owe
own

possess
require
require
resemble
seem
sound

*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").





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