1

Someone breaks some bad news to you. You are taken aback, and you say "I don't know how to feel about this".

My question is, should it be "I don't know how to feel about this (one)",or should it be "I don't know what to feel about this (one)"?

2

Both are correct.
They could have different nuances of meaning... but, for the most part, both sentences are the same.

Here are some possible different nuances to the word choices;

  1. I don't know how to feel about this. This construction could refer to an emotional response to what was stated; I don't know whether to be happy, sad, excited, bummed out, etc. about this.
  2. I don't know what to feel about this. This construction could refer to a degree of belief in what was stated; I don't believe this, I can not believe this, I don't want to believe this, etc.
  3. It is also possible that what to feel about this can refer to a future possible action from the person saying this sentence. In other words; I am wondering if I should punish, cheer on, reprimand or praise, etc. whatever "this" is.

In normal spoken conversations, either sentence could be said with equal intent and both would be correct.

0

A common, idiomatic response in this situation is:

I don't know what to say.

This phrase can be used any time we feel at a loss for words. It is often used as an empathetic response to shocking or sorrowful news. In fact, there is even a book entitled I Don't Know What to Say: How to Be a Blessing to Cancer Patients and Others in Crisis.


As for your wording, instead of saying:

I don't know how to feel about this.

I think it would sound more natural if you said:

I don't know how I feel about this.

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