A verb can be an action verb or a state verb
An action verb is used for an action that has happened, or is still taking place at the time of speaking, or is done habitually.
- He cycled to the shopping mall.
- He is cycling to the shopping mall.
- He cycles to work.
An action verb conveys the same meaning when used in different tenses.
- John read the newspaper. / John was reading the newspaper.
- The Queen will meet the President. / The Queen will be meeting the President.
Some action verbs cannot be used in the continuous tense.
- My father owns that building. (NOT: My father is owning that building.)
- That book belongs to me. (NOT: That book is belonging to me.)
A state verb, also known as non-action verb, refers to the condition of someone or the state they are in.
- The two neighbours hate the sight of each other. (NOT: The two neighbours are hating the sight of each other.)
- She believes everything that is told to her. (NOT: She is believing everything that is told to her.)
Some state verbs when used in the continuoustense refer to feelings that last briefly.
- We are liking what we are doing.
- I am regretting now what I did just now.
- We are wishing the rain stops suddenly
- As usual, he is being provocative.
Action and State Verbs
Some verbs can be both state verb and action verbs. These verbs are used in the continuous tense when they describe an action.
- I see you are very happy with your new glasses. (state)
- The doctor is not seeing any more patients. (action)
- I have two dogs, one cat and a goldfish. (state)
- What are we having for dinner tonight? (action)
- She thinks you are getting the wrong idea about her. (state)
- We're thinking of quitting smoking. (action)
- She looks gorgeous in this new dress. (state)
- She is looking at a dress on sale. (action)
(For more on state verbs, see List 4 - Verbs: Different Verb Types.)