There are 3 types of verbs which can’t be used in continuous tenses

1. Verbs which can never be used in continuous tenses

2. Verbs which can sometimes be used in continuous tenses

3. Verbs which can be used in continuous tenses with a different meaning

1. Verbs which can never be used in continuous tenses:

Verbs of possession: belong to / own / possess

‘This book belongs to me’ / ‘I own 2 cars’


The verb ‘have’ has 2 different meanings:

1. own – ‘I have a cat’ With this meaning you can NEVER use ‘have’ in continuous tenses.
2. host - ‘I am having a party tonight’ With this meaning you can use ‘have’ in continuous tense.

Verbs of containing: contain / consist / fit / involve

‘This chapter contains information about the history of the USA’
‘This new dress doesn’t fit me’

Verbs of knowing: know / understand / remember

'I’m sorry but I don’t understand the question.'

Verbs used for giving your opinion: believe / feel / think

I feel that we should all try to come to an agreement on this topic


The verb think is never used in the continuous tenses for expressing opinion, but it can be used in the continuous tenses to talk about the action of thinking:

'I think we should go to Greece on holiday this year' - OPINION

'The judges are currently thinking about their decision' - ACTION / PROCESS OF THINKING

Other verbs: cost / owe

‘This book costs €7′ / I owe my friend a lot of money after he paid for me to go on holiday’

2. Verbs which are not often used in the continuous tenses

Verbs of emotion: like / dislike / love / hate / enjoy / prefer / fear

These verbs can be used in the continuous tenses only to talk about your feelings about a specific event which will come to an end:

'I am hating this film when will it end?' / 'I’m enjoying the party, the music is great'
When just giving a general opinion about how you feel about something we use the present simple:
I love motorbikes / I prefer white wine to red wine

Verbs which perform the action they describe:

apologise / assume / guarantee / deny / promise / accept / advise / acknowledge / predict / suggest / warn / recommend / explain

These verbs are always preferred in the simple tenses, but you can use them in continuous tenses if you are showing that a situation is continuing and just temporary:

'I recommend this new film it’s great'

'The government is recommending people only to travel on the roads if they need to because there is heavy snow' – CONTINUING TEMPORARY SITUATION

'I advise you to stay healthy'

'The government is advising people not to travel to the war-torn country' - CONTINUING TEMPORARY SITUATION

3. Verbs which have a different meaning when they are used in continuous tenses

Verbs of the senses: look / sound / taste / smell / feel

When we are talking about HOW something tastes / looks / smells we cannot use the continuous tenses:
The food here tastes fantastic! / The hotel looked nice in the picture / This material feels strange
When we are talking about doing the action of smelling / tasting etc. we can use the continuous tenses:
I was tasting lots of wine on my French holiday / We were looking for the hotel for a long time / I was feeling ill

Try our exercises: Present Simple or Present Continuous