Stative Verbs: Some Extra Thoughts (2 of 6): Let’s have a drink.

By | September 22, 2020

Having a drink.jpg

In the previous posts, I looked at the four sorts of stative verbs. ‘Stative’ means ‘about states’ or unchanging conditions. The four sorts of verbs are verbs of Senses (smell, hear, sense), Ownership (have, contain, belong), Mind (believe, trust, know), Emotion (love, hate, adore). I remember these by thinking ‘SOME verbs are stative’.

However, in that last post, I mentioned that there are a few apparent exceptions to this SOME rule – that is, times when stative verbs ARE used with an ‘ing’ in the continuous tense.

Let’s look at the verb ‘have’. Isn’t this a verb about the ownership? That’s the O in SOME? So, it must be stative, right? Yes, right! We can’t say,

I’m having a Rolex watch. [incorrect]

But we do say, …

I’m having a good time. [correct]

Huh? What’s going on here? Well, in the second sentence, have is not about ownership. In that sentence, have means ‘experience’ or ‘do’, which are not stative concepts. For example, …

I’m having breakfast. [correct]

He was having a break. [correct]

They’re certainly having a good time. [correct]

So, when thinking about stative (SOME) verbs, remember, it is not just the usual meaning of the verb which matters, but the way the verb is used, and English often uses verbs flexibly. The next post will give another example of this.

By the way. Look at the picture at the top of this post. You can see three of my girlfriends (ha ha), and they‘re all having a drink.

Author: Andrew

Andrew Guilfoyle Cambridge CELTA, Cambridge DELTA, Cambridge CELTA teacher-trainer, M.Ed