My understanding is that if the verb "to feel" means "to be" then we use an adverb after it; if it means "to touch" then we use an adjective. But we can't say:

I feel nicely.

Why not? I can't understand it.

  • 1
    Who says we use an adverb? 'I feel happy' - 'I feel ill' - 'I felt silly' -presumably this is the sense you are referring to.
    – Kate Bunting
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 8:27
  • 'Feel' doesn't mean 'be'. There are circumstances under which 'I feel nicely' makes perfect sense. I don't understand the question.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 8:28
  • This sounds like a learner question, and might be a better fit for ELL.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


I think you have it backwards.

The verb "to feel" generally means to experience a sensation, either physical "I feel hot" or emotional: "I feel happy." I think that's what you mean by it meaning "to be" - and you'd always use it with an adjective and never with an adverb in that sense.

"To feel" can also mean to experience the sensation of touch, generally by examining something with the hands. You'd use an adverb in that context: "He feels the fruit gently, so as not to bruise it." I think you'd always include an object to be felt, so it would be "I feel OBJECT ADVERB" and not "I feel ADVERB" (though you could probably construct a scenario in which "I feel ADVERB" would be acceptable).

It's also possible to use the verb, in both senses, without adjective or adverb: "She feels her skin prickling," "He feels for the light switch."

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