Dual Meaning Verbs
Some verbs have two different meanings or senses. For one sense we cannot use a continuous tense. For the other sense we can use any tense.
For example, the verb think has two different meanings:
- to believe, to have an opinion
I think red is a sexy colour.
- to reflect, to use your brain to solve a problem
I am thinking about my homework.
In sense 1 there is no real action, no activity. This sense is called "stative". In sense 2 there is a kind of action, a kind of activity. This sense is called "dynamic".
When we use the stative sense, we cannot use a continuous tense. When we use the dynamic sense, we can use any tense, depending on the situation.
Look at the examples in the table below:
- no real action
- a kind of action
| non-continuous tenses
|I think she is beautiful.
||Be quiet. I'm thinking.
||I will think about this problem tomorrow.
|I don't consider that he is the right man for the job.
||We are considering your job application and will give you our answer in a few days.
||We consider every job application very carefully.
|This table measures 4 x 6 feet.
||She has been measuring the room for a new carpet.
||A good carpenter measures his wood carefully.
|Does the wine taste good?
||I was tasting the wine when I dropped the glass.
||I have always tasted wine before drinking it.
|Mary has three children.
||Please phone later. We are having dinner now.
||We have dinner at 8pm every day.
If you have a doubt about a particular verb, ask yourself the question: "Is there any real action or activity?"