Author: British Council | Published 1 December 2022


Stage 1: Present examples 

Write these sets of sentences on the board. Ask: “What do you notice about these sentences?”

Set 1

  • I understand the question.
  • We love this song!
  • Do you want a pen?
  • They sing very well.
  • She walks to school every day.

Set 2

  • They are learning English.
  • He was singing on the bus.
  • Are we eating lunch together today?
  • She was walking to school with her friend.  

To help learners, you could:

  • Underline the key words which you want them to focus on (1 = the present simple verbs; 2 = the continuous forms)
  • Ask more focused questions (e.g. What verb tenses are used in 1? What verb tense is used in 2?)
  • Ask very specific questions (e.g. Can we use continuous forms with all the verbs in 1? =No, only ‘walk and ‘sing’.)

Stage 2: Take feedback 

Ask learners to share their feedback on what they have noticed in the example sentences. Some key points which you might want to share with them include: 

In English some verbs, e.g. understand, love, want are not used in continuous form. (E.g. I understand the question. We love this song!) These verbs are stative; they describe states not actions. Common stative verbs relate to:

  • thoughts and opinions: agree, believe, imagine, know, mean, recognise, remember, think, understand
  • feelings and emotions: dislike, hate, like, love, prefer, want, wish
  • senses: be, feel, hear, look, see, seem, smell, taste
  • possession and measurement: belong, have, own, measure, weigh 

However, some of these verbs are not always stative; it depends on the context. Notice how the meaning changes in some of these examples: 

1. think

Compare: a) I think it's a good idea. b) Wait a moment! I'm thinking. 

2. have

Compare: a) I have a bicycle. b) I’m having (eating) dinner with my aunt today. 

3. see

Compare: a) Can you see that little bird in the tree? b) I'm seeing (meeting) my friend tomorrow.

4. be

Compare: a) He is a very interesting person. b) He is being very silly.

5. taste

Compare: a) The soup tastes delicious. b) The cook is tasting (trying) the soup to check if it needs salt. 

6. feel

Compare: a) I feel so cold today! b) Miss, Alain isn’t feeling well. He wants to go home. 

Note: At lower levels and with young learners, labels such as stative or dynamic can be confusing; it is more useful to focus on meaning. 

Stage 3: Use the grammar

a. Which corner?

Prepare a list of verbs. Write 3 columns on the board: 1 = stative verbs; 2 = dynamic verbs; 3 = can be both but the meaning changes. Elicit 1 example for each column:

1 2 3
want  walk have

Tell learners which corners of the room are 1, 2 and 3. Read out a list of verbs. Learners move to the correct corner. Ask learners to give you an example sentence with the verb. (If your classroom is small, go to a larger room inside the school, or go outside. Make 3 stations. Say the verbs; learners go to the correct station.) 

b. Interview your partner

 Write a list of stative verbs on the board, e.g. agree, know, think, want, like, taste, have, feel, wish. Ask learners to choose 5 and write 5 questions that they can use to interview a partner. Learners interview each other in pairs. After, they could report to the class or write a paragraph. 

c. Dialogue challenge

Learners work in small groups. Give each group a pair of sentences. It doesn’t matter if some groups have the same sentence pairs. Examples: 

  1. I think it’s a good idea. / Wait a moment. I’m thinking.
  2. I have a guitar. / I’m having a party this weekend.
  3. The food tastes awful! / Look! The cook is tasting the soup. 
  4. Your head feels very hot. / I’m not feeling very well. 

Groups create a short dialogue. They must use the two sentences. Groups perform their dialogues for the class.


Stative: verbs that express a state rather than an action.

Dynamic: verbs  used to describe an action rather than a state

Elicit: How a teacher gets information from learners e.g. asking questions, prompting.

Context: the situation within which something exists or happens