Literally, mental refers to anything related to mind or intellectual process and Verbs are words which show actions. Therefore, Mental Verbs refer to cognitive (that deals with logic) state in which actions are mostly abstract.
These Verbs give meaning which is mostly unsuitable for outside evaluation as they are not so concrete actions. However, we can evaluate these types of verbs through our knowledge. Mental Verbs provide meanings which are connected with our sensory capabilities, deciding, understanding and planning.
Mental/Static verbs are can be understood more clearly with the following examples:
The words like see, think, feel, taste, smell etc. do not mean literally. They all refer to opinions.
I can see the future. (No one can actually see)
I can smell. Something is fishy. (Situations cannot be smelt literally but understood)
Hope you got the taste of failure. (Who can taste failure with tongue?)
I think I like you. (Think here means the subject believes)
Instead of ignoring what I say, hear me out this time. (Hear in the sentence means to value what subject has been saying)
Mental Verbs are real verbs
We should not be confused thinking whether these are real verbs or not. Mental Verbs also refer to actions even if they are Invisible.
I decided to go to Africa this fall. (We cannot see it but only know it when somebody tells us)
He expects you to understand. (Expects here means the subject hopes)
Can you promise to work harder? (Promise in the sentence means assurance which is only an understanding that the action will take place)
Did I surprise you? (Surprise means taken aback)
You seem to be impressed by her. (Seem and impressed both can’t be seen until shown in expression or told)
In this way, we can say that Mental Verbs are Interpretive as they tend to explain what seems obscure (difficult to understand).
Points to Remember
Mental Verbs are mostly used with Present Perfect Tense as this tense states the completion of a work. This tense is used as Mental Verbs are not regarded as progressive. Mental verbs are also called Copular Verbs.