Stative verbs and perceptions of intensity: The case of ‘believe’ in simple and progressive aspect

Naoko Taguchi, Marianna Gracheva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study assessed the validity of descriptive findings from corpus linguistics research by analyzing human participants’ performance and perception data. While the stative verb believe usually occurs in the simple aspect, a corpus-based analysis has revealed that believe also occurs in the progressive form in communicative situations conveying a heightened degree of intensity and marked with specific linguistic features such as intensifying adjectives, adverbs of certainty, direct addresses, and others (Gracheva, in press). This study adopted an experimental approach to further assess the link between the progressive form in situations of use conducive to assertive stance and emotional involvement and its surrounding linguistic characteristics. Eighty-six native English speakers were presented with 24 naturally-occurring texts from corpora. Half of the texts involved linguistic features of intensity (progressive aspect condition), while half involved no such features (simple aspect condition). Participants read the texts and selected the form of believe (simple or progressive aspect) which they thought was appropriate in each text. Results showed that participants selected the progressive aspect 47% of the times for the texts featuring language of intensity, while their selection of that aspect was less than 3% in the simple condition texts. Follow-up interviews revealed that participants sensed the intensity conveyed by the texts (e.g., strong emotion, urgency, emphasis), leading to their choice of the progressive over the simple aspect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100072
JournalApplied Corpus Linguistics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Corpora
  • Grammatical aspect
  • Intensity
  • Stative verbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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