Isn't "feel" a linking verb here? If so, shouldn't "strange" be used in lieu of "strangely"?

A tinkling bell rang somewhere in the depths of the shop as they stepped inside. It was a tiny place, empty except for a single, spindly chair that Hagrid sat on to wait. Harry felt strangely as though he had entered a very strict library; he swallowed a lot of new questions that had just occurred to him and looked instead at the thousands of narrow boxes piled neatly right up to the ceiling. For some reason, the back of his neck prickled. The very dust and silence in here seemed to tingle with some secret magic.

4 Answers 4


Strangely here is not a predicative complement of the verb feel but an adverb modifying as though he had entered a very strict library. Compare these parallel uses with a different PC (1) and different adverbs (2,3):

  1. Harry felt strangely happy.
  2. Harry felt just as though he had entered a very strict library.
  3. Harry felt almost as though he had entered a very strict library.
  • This was a little hard to understand at first. What can PC be? an adjective, a (special) clause?
    – Diamond
    Jun 6, 2017 at 17:35
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    @user3257464 A predicative complement is an adjectival or nominal complement of the verb which is 'predicated' of the subject: that is, it describes or identifies the subject. For instance, John is a barber, John is happy, John feels happy--the words in bold are PCs. Jun 6, 2017 at 17:40
  • Can it be also a clause acting as a noun, like "as though ..." here?
    – Diamond
    Jun 6, 2017 at 17:54
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    @user3257464 The as though construction is a comparative and introduces a clause with adjectival force: it answers How did Harry feel? rather than Like what did Harry feel? Jun 6, 2017 at 17:58
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    @user3257464 "Effect" -- the clause behaves like an adjective or replaces an adjective. Jun 6, 2017 at 18:09

I think this is a very interesting question!

If you would use strange, the sentence would become

Harry felt strange, as though he had entered a very strict library.

Which would mean that as though he had entered a very strict library explains why Harry feels strange.

But that is not what was written...

In the actual sentence, Harry felt as though he had entered a very strict library - and he did so in a strange way (that is why we use the adverb). Or rather, the fact that he felt as though he had entered a very strict library was a strange thing.
Which makes sense, because I would not expect to feel that way when entering a shop.

All in all the two options (strange or strangely) could both be correct, but the meaning of the sentence is a little bit different.

  • 1
    In British English (and JK Rowling is British, of course) "Harry felt strange" is often a euphemism for "Harry suddenly became ill". That is not what the sentence means. It means Harry felt (or thought) that "he had entered a strange place in a strange way" instead of the shop that he expected to enter.
    – alephzero
    Jun 6, 2017 at 19:10
  • I don't agree with this interpretation. If it meant he felt in a strange way I would expect to see "Harry felt, strangely, ..." with another comma. In addition, it is common in some parts of the English-speaking world to answer the question "How are you feeling?" with "well" instead of "good". An answer of "strangely" would also be completely normal to many - not to mean, "when I feel things, I do so in a strange way", but rather "I feel strange". I've always thought the construction was a sort of joke, because "how?" can get an adverb as an answer. Jun 6, 2017 at 20:03
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    @DarrenRinger I disagree with your disagreement! Native British English speaker, and it seems clear to me that the "strangely" is commenting on how unusual it is to feel "as though he had entered a very strict library". You wouldn't "feel strange" in such a situation, but it is a strange feeling to feel in that situation.
    – Muzer
    Jun 7, 2017 at 9:18
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    Note where i said "with another comma" - in fact I misread the original quote as "Harry felt strangely, as though...". Completely my mistake. I agree with your disagreement to my disagreement :P Jun 7, 2017 at 13:22

There's a simpler way to think about it: If the sentence was "Harry felt strange, ..." then it would mean "Harry felt as though he was somehow strange, ...". In that case, "strange" is an adjective. However, the sentence was "Harry felt strangely, ...", meaning "Harry had a strange feeling, ...". In this case, "strangely" is an adverb describing the action "felt".


If I try to feel a light switch with a finger, that is a normal approach.

If I try to feel the temperature of water by using my ear to feel, that is a strange way to feel. I feel strangely. This isn't describe what I felt (which is the water's temperature), but what is strange is how I felt it.

What was strange is just how much Harry felt like he entered a very strict library. That wouldn't be a very strange experience if Harry just entered a very strict library. If he just entered a very strict library, then feeling that way would be pretty normal. However, Harry was feeling that way in different circumstances. The feeling wasn't very strange, but the way he was feeling that was strange.

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