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Lesson 8.3

Continuous Verb Tenses

Tiempos continuos de los verbos
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As mentioned in the previous lesson on the present continuous, there are some verbs which may not be used in the continuous tenses. Below is a list of the verbs which cannot be used in any of the continuous verb tenses (present, past or future). The list is grouped according to the type of verb. In general, verbs which cannot be used in the continuous are static verbs, rather than active ones (dynamic). Some of the following verbs have two meanings; one which is static and one which is active. If there is more than one meaning for a verb, you will find below only the meaning of the verb that cannot be used in the continuous.

1. Sense Verbs:

  feel,   hear,   see,   smell,   taste



 I (can) see you.
I am seeing you.
 It smells like you are cooking something.
It is smelling like you are cooking something.


 I am seeing you later, right?
I see you later, right?
 I am tasting the soup to see if it is as good as it smells.
I taste the soup right now.

Note: If the sense is voluntary or active, we can use the continuous form. In the case of “to hear”, the active form is a different verb, “to listen to”.

2. Emotive Verbs:

  believe,   dislike,   doubt,   imagine,   hate,   know,   like,   love,   prefer,   realize,   recognize,   remember,
  suppose,   think,   understand,   want,   wish


 You’re lying. I don’t believe you!
You’re lying. I am not believing you!
 Don’t worry, he understands you.
Don’t worry, he is understanding you.
 Do you think there is something wrong?
Are you thinking there is something wrong?

3. Stative or Abstract Verbs:

  be,   cost,   seem,   need,   care,   contain,   exist


 I am ill.
I am being ill.
 David needs a new car.
David is needing a new car.
 Cigarettes cost 5 euros now.
Cigarettes are costing 5 euros now.
 I don’t care if you don’t like it, you are going to eat it!
I’m not caring if you are not liking it, you are going to eat it!
Note: Normally, “to be” is a static verb, but it can also be used to talk about behavior. In this case, when we use “to be” to discuss the conduct of someone, we can use the continuous tense.


 You are silly.(*Meaning = in general, you are a silly person)
 You are being silly.(*Meaning = at the moment, you are acting or behaving in a silly manner)

4. Possessive Verbs:

  belong,   have,   possess,   own


 Ann owned a house when she lived in New York.
Ann was owning a house when she lived in New York.
 That belongs to me!
That is belonging to me!
Note: When we use the verb “to have” in the possessive sense, we cannot use it in the continuous.


 I have [I’ve got] a car.
I am having a car.
 I am having dinner right now.
I have dinner right now.

5. Communication verbs:

  agree,   astonish,   deny,   disagree,   impress,   mean,
  please,   promise,   satisfy,   surprise


 I disagree, I think it’s a great idea.
I am disagreeing, I am thinking it’s a great idea.
 You surprised me!
You were surprising me!
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