English Grammar Lesson: Non-Progressive Verbs

Michael Grammar Leave a Comment

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I am writing this lesson on my laptop right now. I used the verb write in its progressive form (with the be verb) because I am writing now. We use verbs in the progressive form when we talk about actions that are happening right now. Here are some other examples:

  • I’m working until 10pm tonight.
  • Jack’s sister is staying at his house this week.
  • Jane is listening to music while doing her homework.

Most present actions are described using the progressive form. However there are several kinds of verbs that are not used in the progressive, even if we are talking about right now. Today, I want to show you this English grammar and give you some example sentences.

First of all, there are verbs that show mental states (such as believe, know, remember, want, etc):

  • I believe this is the correct answer. Not, I am believing ~
  • I know how to fix that computer problem.
  • Yes, I remember what he asked me.
  • I want to have pizza for lunch.

Next, there are verbs that show emotions (such as love, like, hate, prefer, etc)

  • I love pizza. I’m sure you already knew that!
  • Bob said he likes his new job.
  • I prefer coffee to tea.

Third, there are verbs of the senses. These verbs (feel, hear, see, smell, sound, & taste) are not used in the progressive when they refer to the action of the senses. Generally, the subject of the sentence is the thing being described:

  • This cup feels hot.
  • Does this milk smell right to you?
  • That music sounds so relaxing.
  • The cheesecake she made tastes great.

Lastly, there are some special cases that you need to remember:

  1. Have is not used in the progressive when it means possession or ownership, but it is used in the progressive in other meanings (like experience) or in certain collocations:
    1. I have an iPhone, but my sister has an Android.
    2. Everyone is having a great time at the party!
    3. Jane is having a baby!
  2. Feel can be used in the progressive when it describes using your fingers to check something:
    1. I am feeling this glass carefully for cracks or chips.
  3. Think is not used in the progressive when it means opinion but it is used in the progressive when it means using one’s brain. Compare these two sentences:
    1. I think studying English is a good way to expand cross-cultural communication.
    2. I am thinking about the answer to this math problem, but I can’t figure it out.
  4. Look is not used in the progressive when it means seem but it is used in the progressive when it means using one’s eyes. Compare these two sentences:
    1. That cake looks delicious!
    2. Why are you looking at me that way?
  5. Weigh and measure are not used in the progressive when we describe the weight or length of something, but they are used in the progressive when we describe the action of weighing or measuring:
    1. I am weighing the coffee to see how much is in the bag. It weighs 5 pounds.
    2. Jack is measuring the table. He says it measures three meters long.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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