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I built this sentence:

"I was going to go for a run after waking up from the nap, but I didn't feel willing."

and my English teacher said I should use "...didn't feel motivated" or "...didn't feel up to"

he said the word willing is awkward there. I looked up willing in dictionary and it says something like: "ready, eager, or prepared to do something" so what is wrong with "didn't feel willing"?

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  • It is awkward. Your teacher is correct. However, there's an error in the second suggestion your teacher made. It's awkward because feel is not the right verb. You can only really be willing.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 22:29
  • @Billy Kerr, so "I was going to go for a run after waking up from the nap, but I wasn't willing." would be ok? Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 22:41
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    Hmm . . the problem is that "I wasn't willing" actually means you definitely didn't want to do it, which is slightly odd in this context when you consider that you were going to do it, but didn't.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 22:43
  • @Billy Kerr, that is the point. I thought I would be willing after nap, turns out I was worng Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 22:46
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    I would say "but I didn't feel up to it". This is much more idiomatic and natural - something a native English speaker would say.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 22:47

2 Answers 2

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An idiomatic way to say this would be:

I had planned to go for a walk after my nap but when I woke up, I didn't feel like it.

As gotube wrote, we don't "feel willing". Rather, we are willing or we aren't willing to do something. And importantly, that something is what someone else has asked us to do or told us to do, or is something expected of us. We don't use the word willing in connection with our own plans, intentions, or desires.

I need a volunteer to work the late shift on Saturday. Anybody willing?

-- If you're paying double-time, I'm willing.

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Your teacher is right.

The reason is that "willing" doesn't correlate with "feel". There's at least two common meanings of "feel", and neither applies to "willing".

First, "willing" isn't a word about emotions. It isn't something you can decide about based on your feelings. Either you have the will to do something, or you do not. If you want to do something, you are willing. Wanting to do something isn't an emotion, so neither is "willing".

The other sense of "feel" is to express opinions. Whether you are willing is not something you can have an opinion about either. It's a fact that you know about yourself. It's not something you can guess at.

To "feel like doing something" is another way of saying to "be willing", but "feeling willing" doesn't make sense.

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  • "He was asked, and felt he was willing" is perfectly fine. "He decided he was willing", also perfectly fine semantically, this is a thing that makes sense and one can do. So I don't think this really makes sense. To the contrary, the sort of "discovered" rather than "decided upon" introspection of one's own willingness that you are insisting is the only possible - is indicated precisely by the use of 'felt' in my first example here. In short, you are correct that there is a bad colocation here, but your speculation about why it is bad is not accurate in any way.
    – BadZen
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 5:50

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