I feel anger.

I feel angry.

I’ve read some things about copulas. I don’t think I get meaning of adjective use after a copula. I don’t think I get how one can feel angry. I don’t think angry reads like a thing, to me.

How may these two not have a like meaning?

I feel badness. (One may sense something, maybe in them, badness[?].)

I feel bad. (?)

I feel badly. (how one may do feeling[?])

Grammatically, can you not use I feel badness.?

2 Answers 2


Verbs are often said to be "action words" - or words that express the action or activity that's going on in a sentence. Some actions have objects, and objects are normally nouns or "things" that can be qualified/described with adjectives.

However, to be in the usual sense doesn't really convey an action but simply expresses "X = Y" or "X's state = Y".

English requires all sentences to have a subject and a verb, expressed or strongly implied. You can't just say "The red car." in English without the listener thinking you haven't completed the sentence. Some other languages (like Russian) you can, but not English.

So we need constructs like "The car is red" or "I feel angry." Words that are normally adjectives occupy to be's "object."

To feel, to seem, to become all work similarly to to be.

So I feel angry where angry is an adjective is fine.

Feel is also a transitive verb which can take an object (unlike to be), so I feel anger is also OK. I feel anger typically more usually means you feel someone else's anger, or anger caused by an object or external cause - whereas I feel angry only describes your feelings.

Although it is possible that someone can say I feel anger to mean something close to I feel angry if it's obvious from context that there isn't an external anger.

What about angrily? -ly words are adverbs and modify verbs, not nouns (note that most -y words are adjectives).

So I feel angrily sounds weird because you are literally saying I am feeling {something not specified} in an angry manner. I feel badly is similarly technically wrong, but I have heard people say it before. But not with other -ly words.

I feel so badly for that couple. They lost their house.

Again, probably somewhat wrong English but you might hear it in real life.

It's not really too wrong - I feel badly literally means I feel in a bad manner or I feel in a bad way - which I can see how it would translate to sorrow or sympathy.

  • 1
    The use of the adverb badly is still rather common, but I don't think it's technically wrong. For some time, I feel good was considerably less common than I feel well, and in fact was considered grammatically incorrect as recently as the 60's. Various ngram views suggest that adverb usage with the word feel has been increasingly replaced with the adjective over the past 120 years.
    – BobRodes
    Feb 19, 2016 at 22:26

You could say I feel badness, but the implication is that the badness is coming from somewhere other than the self and that I sense it.

Feel can have the meaning of getting a tactile impression of something (for example, one may put one's fingers on sandpaper and say it feels rough), but it also has the meaning of referring to one's emotional state. You can talk about how you feel: angry, happy, sad, good or bad, and so on. You also have feelings, which may be good, bad, hurt, and so on. Hard feelings are what you have when you haven't forgiven someone for something and are still angry: I still have hard feelings about being passed over for that promotion.

I feel bad (or badly) has the idiomatic meaning of feeling sick, and can also have the meaning of feeling remorse or regret about having done something, for example I feel bad that I missed your party.

You can also say I don't feel well or (usually AmE) I don't feel good to mean that you feel sick. The use of the adverb instead of the adjective is an older form, based on the idea that feel is a verb. For the most part, use of an adjective is more typical nowadays.

  • So, feel, as a copula, seems like something you may have, and not something you do? And, I feel badness may mean I feel it, badness, from elsewhere? Where may this meaning come from?
    – saySay
    Feb 19, 2016 at 22:05
  • Yes, in the sense that you have being, you also have feelings. Yes, "I feel badness" may mean that you feel it from elsewhere, or perhaps emanating from the self. There are three major definitions for the word feel, and you appear to be struggling with the differences. Assuming that you have looked them up, can you tell me what about them you are having trouble with?
    – BobRodes
    Feb 19, 2016 at 22:15

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