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I've been having some texting with someone else. None of us are English native speakers, but we are both pretty advanced. She thinks I'm more advanced than her, although I think I just have more experience; but about knowledge and language dominion, we are pretty similar.

I have some doubts, because in a moment she wrote: "I'm really envy how good you know English, but I pretty sure that it's all the result of hard work".

I know the right way of this sentence is: "I really envy how good you are in English, but I'm pretty sure it's all the result of hard work".

"How good you know English" sounds right to me. My doubts are about:

  • "I'm really envy" -> "I really envy" and
  • "I pretty sure" -> "I'm pretty sure".

By intuition, I'm sure the versions at the right side are the correct ones, but I don't know how to explain it, and I haven't found anything about the differences between using "I [verb]" and "I am [adjective / adverb]".

In fact, I've found that "I'm" is used before a verb, to be descriptive and to announce your location: "I am walking to the store", "I am a doctor", "I am at the store". But also, it's used before an adjective or adverb in simple present: "I am sure", "I am hungry".

In contrast, "I" is used in simple past, future and simple present, often followed by "to be": "I have to go to the store", "I cook hamburgers", "I envy your skills".

I've been searching everywhere the right uses of "I" and "I am", and I haven't fount anything regarding this doubts.

Why is my suggestion right, or if it's right at all? Are both versions right?

  • I used a blockquote and bullets for your examples, but see this answer for inserting new lines. You can also find other formatting tips on that page. – Em. Oct 2 at 21:45
  • @Em. I was editing this while you were too haha. One thing that needs to be corrected I think is this part: differences between using "I <>" and "I am <>". OP wrote "I<<verb>>" and "I am <<adjective/adverb>>". But I think because "<>" is used for html coding, what is inside them is omitted. – AIQ Oct 2 at 21:55
  • @AIQ I agree. I couldn’t quickly figure out how to escape them, so I used brackets. – Em. Oct 2 at 22:02
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Given I am X, what's valid for X is in almost all cases is the following:

  • an adjective (I am hot, I am third, I am ready)

  • a noun or pronoun (I am a cat, I am a worker, I am him, I am George)

  • a verb's present participle form, these always end in -ing (I am walking ..., I am envying ...)

  • a verb's past participle form if it makes sense to express a state and can also work as an adjective (I am destroyed, I am surprised)

  • rarely, a preposition (I am of the tribe, I am to lead my group)

  • any of the above with an adverb in front, (e.g. I am very X)

Adverbs can appear between I and am, like really, definitely, etc.

What X can't never be is the plain form of a verb.

So you can say I am walking but never I am walk.

You can say I am to walk but not I am walk.

You can say I am cooking hamburgers or I cook hamburgers but never I am cook hamburgers.

You also are required to express am in all the above situations. Am is not optional, but it's often said in the contracted form I'm.

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    Thanks! While reading your answer out loud, I said something that I had never said before - "I am hot". – AIQ Oct 2 at 22:15
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"I'm really envy" -> "I really envy" [buzzer] "I pretty sure" -> "I'm pretty sure". [fine]

  • I really envy you. [the verb envy requires a direct object] OR
  • I am really envious of you.=I'm really envious of you.

Use I am with the adjective and I with the verb.

And it's "How well you know English.", not "how good" you know English.

to know something well [adverb]

to be good [a thing or person]

  • this is a great answer. I really like the use of [buzzer]. – AIQ Oct 2 at 22:22

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