You Know It’s Bad

Feeling Bad

Feeling Bad

Pardon me if you already know the proper usage, but it seems to me that “bad” and “badly” are often used interchangeably. I cannot count the number of times I have heard someone say “I feel badly”, but it’s probably as often as I have heard someone else say “I feel bad”. If I were to base things purely on how often these statements are used, it is understandable that the question as to which is correct would arise.

So which is the correct word to use?

Let’s take a look at “badly” first. This word is an adverb, and by definition, an adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb – among many other things. An adverbs modifies other words in various ways, expressing a relationship in terms of manner, time, place, degree, and more.

How about “bad”? It is an adjective, which modifies a noun.

I can stop here, and simply state that having laid out the nature of the two words, there is no argument anymore. “Badly” is the correct word to use. It is an adverb and “feel” is a verb, yes?

We have to look at the nature of the verb “feel”. This verb functions in more than one way. One can argue that it is an action verb, that is, it is used when someone or something is carrying out an action. Look at these examples.

Feel how soft the leather is.
She had to feel the metal case to realize how hot the laptop was.

Another way the verb “feel” functions is as a linking verb. This kind of verb is used when someone or something seems to be doing something. The person or thing is NOT carrying out an action actively. This is where the answer lies.

When you are sick, and you want to make a statement expressing that, you say “I feel bad” because the verb “feel” acts as a linking verb. You are not carrying out an action.

Simple, isn’t it? So, the next time you are tempted to say you are feeling badly to express that something is wrong with you emotionally or physically, I hope you remember this post.

Image via KeliesKorner


Noemi Twigg has been writing for Splashpress Media for several years. An English teacher by profession, she has a penchant for words and likes to play around with them. Having been bitten by the travel bug, she aims to discover more languages in the near future as she continues to do what she loves most - writing.


  1. Right! Because only the numb feel badly. But what about bad/poor? Do you have bad grammar or poor grammar? (Personally, I hope to have neither!)
    Bill Kerschbaum´s last blog post ..Obi-Wan Kenobi: Content Writer for the Dark Side [Good Design #7]

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