Sleep means to rest your mind and body, usually at night. So it should be stative. But we often say something like "I am sleeping". So it looks also like a dynamic verb. Is sleep stative or dynamic or both?


Don't think of the names of the categories quite so literally. The University of Victoria's Study Zone specifically lists "sleep" as a dynamic verb, and from the description it should be pretty clear why:

  • Dynamic verbs (sometimes referred to as "action verbs") usually describe actions we can take, or things that happen

  • [S]tative verbs usually refer to a state or condition which is not changing or likely to change.

  • The difference is important, because stative verbs cannot normally be used in the continuous (BE + ING) forms.

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  • I agree that sleep is dynamic for sleep is a process which is stationary. But why stand and sit are stative? – hermes Dec 11 '19 at 1:36
  • @MathWizard I don't believe they are stative, at least not in the senses I'm thinking of. – Laurel Dec 11 '19 at 1:43
  • I have seen from online sources that stand, sit and lie are stative, while lay is dynamic. I agree with it particularly for sit which is really like stative. But it may be inclusive because "I am sitting in the sofa" and "I am standing in the line" sound ok – hermes Dec 11 '19 at 2:11
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    Every single stative verb in English can be used in the progressive. Even the most the stative of all verbs to be: Harry is being so kind today. Use these categories as an aid to understanding but nothing more. – Arm the good guys in America Dec 11 '19 at 4:29
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    You really have to scramble semantically when you use some stative predicates in the progressive: ??Bill is being so tall today. *This group is being non-Abelian. – John Lawler Dec 12 '19 at 0:10

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