the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English

Non-continuous Verbs

Non-continuous verbs are verbs that we do not normally use with continuous tenses. These "stative" verbs are about state, not action, and they cannot express the continuous or progressive aspect. Here are some of the most common non-continuous verbs:

Look at these example sentences, right and wrong:

I want a coffee. not I am wanting a coffee.
I don't believe you are right. not I am not believing you are right.
Does this pen belong to you? not Is this pen belonging to you?
It seemed wrong. not It was seeming wrong.
I don't hear anything. not I am not hearing anything.

Notice that we often use can + see/hear:

With verbs that we cannot use in continuous tenses, there is no real action or activity. Compare hear and listen. The verb "hear" means "receive sound in your ears". There is no action or activity by you. We cannot use hear with continuous tenses. But listen means "try to hear". You make an effort to hear. There is a kind of action or activity. We can use listen with continuous tenses.