1. a feeling of
  2. a sense of

I am confused about these two phrases. I have learned the usages of them for instance:

  1. a feeling of satisfaction/pride
  2. a sense of humor/direction

but I still can't figure out the difference between the two phrases.

Could you show me some more examples to help me distinguish? Thank you!

  • 2
    Welcome to ELL. The distinction between sense and feeling is subtle and nice, but if you read several dictionaries carefully, you will understand it. What dictionaries did you consult? Please tell us by adding your thoughts to the question by using the edit link. Also please take a few minutes to review our tour and Help Center pages to learn more about how to write a useful question. Oct 5, 2016 at 3:22

2 Answers 2


sense when in the context of an ideal or a virtue or an ability (such as "humor" or "justice" or "irony" or "direction" or "responsibility") is synonymous with "intelligent understanding of and an appreciation for" something.

feeling when in the context of mental states (such as "pride" or "embarrassment" or "delight" or "shame" or "envy" or "confusion") refers to an emotional state.


I think you may be blurring the distinction between sense and sensation. It is true that sense can mean feeling, as in

A perception or feeling produced by a stimulus; sensation: a sense of fatigue and hunger

but it can also mean

A capacity to appreciate or understand: a keen sense of humor

So you could use sense or feeling to fill in the following blank:

I had a _________ of having been there before.

But while you might grammatically say

He had a good feeling of humor.

when you mean to say the person had a good sense of humor, it would be awkward and confusing (and would sound foreign to the native speaker's ear) because it would not mean what you intended.

Still, you could easily change the preposition and say:

He had a good feeling for humor.

This version, though related, also has a different meaning.

Definitions from TFD Online

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