1

The following extract is from Frankenstein. Does anyone know why the adverb gloomily is used after the linking verb felt?

Yet, as I drew nearer home, grief and fear again overcame me. Night also closed around; and when I could hardly see the dark mountains, I felt still more gloomily. The picture appeared a vast and dim scene of evil, and I foresaw obscurely that I was destined to become the most wretched of human beings.

  • Obviously, the person who proposed to close this thread has an appallingly inadequate understanding of English grammar. – Apollyon Jul 17 at 14:23
  • That usage sounds strange to me, too. I tried to do an ngram search on "felt _ ADV_, felt ADJ", but it didn't give any useful results, because no examples are served up when part-of-speech tags are used, plus the very common "well" is an adverb, but it is classed as an adjective in "felt well". I don't know any automatic way to search for more information. Maybe if you find more examples in that book, you could post them. – Jack O'Flaherty Jul 17 at 21:37
  • Where did you get the text? Not all texts, copies, pdf, etc. are trustworthy. – Lambie Jul 28 at 20:57
  • @Lambie Maybe you could google the relevant text and see if this is a mere misprint. – Apollyon Jul 29 at 1:36
  • You are supposed to do that. Especially, for a work of literature that may or may not be in the public domain. – Lambie Jul 29 at 13:47
1

In the present day, I felt gloomily would be taken for an error in standard English— one says I felt gloomy. We regard feel (and various senses of other verbs of states of being like sound, taste, or appear) as a linking verb (copula) when there is an adjective complement, as the subject and its complement are being related or equated: I feel happyI am happy.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was published in 1818, however, when some sensibilities about the language were different. A search in the Corpus of Historical American English turns up a similar constructions into the late 19th-century:

Sarah, you feel poorly to-day. (Elizabeth Stoddard, Two Men: A Novel, 1865)

Don't call him my friend, even in a joke; it makes me feel awfully. (Edward Everett Hale, The Brick Moon and Other Stories, 1872)

Mrs. Church appeared to feel badly. (New York Times, 1884)

Sir Anthony Eden himself, in a sentence no doubt contorted to avoid ending with a preposition, once said

If there is one country about whose radio campaign and criticisms of Greece I feel badly, it is Bulgaria. (Anthony Eden, August 1945)

The Merriam-Webster blog covers the phenomenon in its post regarding the ever-contentious I feel badly:

[S]ome people make a considered distinction between feel bad and feel badly, choosing feel bad when feel is about physical health and feel badly when feel is about an emotional state. Others switch them with just as much intention. These uses are established enough that some dictionaries (including Merriam-Webster Unabridged) cover badly as an adjective….

There was a time, mostly in the 19th century and mostly because bad was thought to only mean "somewhat evil," that people were advised to use feel badly for both physical health and emotional states. Modern advisers recommend feel bad in both contexts.

| improve this answer | |
  • felt is being used as if it were an active verb. That said, I disagree with your feel bad/badly thing. – Lambie Jul 28 at 21:03
  • "Poorly" is also listed as an adjective in the dictionary. – Apollyon Jul 29 at 1:34
  • @Apollyon Yes, in the US (mostly south and rural areas), they say: "He was feeling poorly". It was also very much more common in the past. You hear it in old movies.... – Lambie Jul 29 at 13:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.