Action-Non-Action-Sentence-Correction

ESL Activity: Sentence error correction with Action and Non-Action verbs

Can you spot what is wrong with each of these sentences? You may need to take a refresher “class” on Action and Non-Action verbs. Read this lesson here . . . and another one on verbs that break the rules here!

Error Correction with Action and Non-Action Verbs

1. I am having a car since five years ago.

2. He is wanting a new roommate.

3. I am not understanding this lesson.

4. I am seeing her.

5. I am tasting the soup. It is tasting good.

 

How did you do? Scroll down to find out . . .

 

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Answers

1. I am having a car since five years ago.

Answer: I am having a car since five years ago.

I have had a car since five years ago.

“Have” is a non-action verb; therefore, it is generally only used in the simple tense, not in the continuous. “I am having a car” suggests ownership, and verbs of ownership, like “own” and “possess,” follow the same rule. The sentence should use the Present Perfect because we want to express that something started five years ago and has a connection to today. This is exactly when we use the Present Perfect!

 

2. He is wanting a new roommate.

Answer: He is wanting a new roommate.

He wants a new roommate.

Just like with #1, “want” is a Non-Action verb. Most verbs of desire, like “want” and “wish” and “need,” follow the same rule.

 

3. I am not understanding this lesson.

Answer: I am not understanding this lesson.

I do not understand this lesson.

“Understand” is also a Non-Action verb. It falls into the category of verbs that express mental states, like “think” and “perceive” and “know,” which are all also Non-Action.

Questions #1 and #2 are clearly wrong, but this is not necessarily the case with #3. It is generally accepted to say “I am not understanding you,” so to many native English speakers, this sentence might actually pass as correct!

 

4. I am seeing her.

Answer: This sentence is also a tricky one. Is it correct? Actually, it is . . . depending on what meaning  you want to express with this sentence! “See” is technically a Non-Action verb. Therefore, we do not use it in the Continuous when we talk about looking at things. The following sentences are examples:

“Look! I see a dolphin.”

“We saw many rainbows when we were in Hawaii.”

“I can’t see because you are in my way!”

However, “see” can also be considered an Action verb, but the meaning changes. “Seeing” means “dating” someone! Therefore, in the sentence “I am seeing her” the person is dating the girl.

 

5. I am tasting the soup. It is tasting good.

Answer: Like “see,” “taste” is a verb of the senses. It follows the same rule: generally, it is not used in the Continuous, but when it is, the meaning changes. Here are some examples of the Non-Action verb “taste”:

“This tastes delicious!”

“Taste this. Does it taste spicy to you?”

“This tastes just like my mother’s cooking!”

In each of the above cases, “taste” means the taste of the food. However, “tasting” means “trying or sampling” something. Here are some examples:

“I am going to a wine tasting on Saturday.”

“Did you try the soup?” “I am tasting it right now.”

“I was tasting the soup when I burned my tongue.”