Part 2: Verbs with a different meaning in each tense

Part 2: Verbs with a different meaning in each tense

You learned in Part 1 of this unit that there are stative (or non-continuous) and dynamic verbs in English.

But some verbs can be both stative and dynamic depending on their meaning.

In the Present Simple, they act as stative verbs.

In the Present Continuous, they act as dynamic or action verbs.

See the example situations below with be, see, think, smell and have to learn about their meaning in both tenses.

PRESENT SIMPLE: STATIVE USE OF THE VERB

1. BE = USUALLY USED AS A STATIVE VERB

Example situation:

  • He’s a high-skilled pilot.

PRESENT CONTINUOUS:  DYNAMIC USE OF THE VERB

1. BE = BEHAVE OR ACT

Example situation:

  • You’re being stupid.

2. SEE = PERCEIVE WITH THE EYE, UNDERSTAND

Example situations:

  • I see what you mean.
  • I can see a helicopter in the meadow.

2. SEE = MEET

Example situation:

  • I’m seeing my flight instructor at 2 pm.

3. THINK = EXPRESS AN OPINION, BELIEVE

Example situations:

  • What do you think of the new pilot laws? 
  • His English has improved a lot. I think he can pass the test. 

3. THINK = CONSIDER, REASON ABOUT OR REFLECT ON

Example situations:

  • You look confused. What are you thinking about? What is happening in your mind now?

4. SMELL (STATIVE) = HAVE A CERTAIN SMELL

Example situation:

  • It often smells like fuel when we’re waiting for take-off, doesn’t it ?

4. SMELL = THE ACTION OF SMELLING

Example situation:

  • James : Where are you Sarah ? I’m waiting for you at the gate. 
  • Sarah : We’re smelling some perfumes at the duty free shop. We’ll be there in two minutes.

5. HAVE = POSSESS, OWN

Example situations:

  • Doctor Smith has a PA28.
  • We don’t have any children.

4. HAVE = PART OF AN EXPRESSION

Example situation:

  • Simon is having a great time travelling around America. He is enjoying himself.