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What Is a Dynamic Verb?

By Dee Jones
Updated May 23, 2024
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A dynamic verb, which can also be called a finitive verb or action verb, is a verb that describes some progressive action. Dynamic verbs can be used to describe an action that has a duration and an endpoint, as in the sentence, “We’re going to the movies tonight.” A dynamic verb is the opposite of a stative verb, which expresses a condition or property that is unlikely to change. Verbs that are dynamic can be used to describe actions that are either physical or mental, so, “She’s cooking dinner tonight,” and “She’s thinking about what to cook for dinner,” are both examples of dynamic verbs. Processes, like an ice cube melting, can also be described using dynamic verbs.

Dynamic verbs are verbs that describe some action, process, happening, or event. Dynamic verbs are also called finitive verbs and action verbs. The sentence, “She is singing,” contains a dynamic verb. A dynamic verb has a duration, meaning the action will start and eventually end, although the endpoint might not be defined. Also, the action in an action verb may or may not have occurred yet. In the sentence, “She is shopping,” the action is taking place in the present, while the action in the sentence, “I’m going shopping tomorrow,” hasn’t taken place yet.

A dynamic verb is the exact opposite of a stative verb. A stative verb expresses a state, condition, property, or perception that is static and unlikely to change. In the sentence, “I hate broccoli,” the verb is stative. The speaker’s dislike of a particular is a fact. It has no duration because it is unlikely to change. If, on the other hand, the speaker said, “I’m going to eat broccoli for dinner, even though I don’t really like it,” the verb is dynamic. “I hear music,” contains a stative verb, while, “I’m listening to music,” contains a verb that is dynamic.

There are several ways to use dynamic verbs. Most obviously, action verbs can be used to describe or express an activity, like, “The children played in the park all day.” Verbs that are dynamic don’t only apply to physical actions but to mental actions as well, as in the sentences, “She is daydreaming,” and “I’m thinking about what I have to do tomorrow.” A process can also be described using a dynamic, or finitive, verb as in a sentence like, “The steaks on the grill are burning,” or “The fabric on that sofa is fading.”

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