Feel good or feel well?

 

Q:

Everybody wants to feel well. Everybody also likes to feel good. What's the difference?

David Shaffer
disin@mail.chosun.ac.kr

A:

Feel well, I think, is used only to refer to a good health condition. Feel good, on the other hand, can also be used in this way, but is also very commonly used to refer to a good emotional condition.

Shinichiro Ishikawa
(iskwshin@vanilla.freemail.ne.jp):

A:

So can we say as follows...?

(Someone sick for a long time in the hospital says to the person visiting him/her:)

I can't feel well but I feel good this morning.

Bocchi
Hiroshima, Japan

A:

Both answers are correct.

Feel well and be well refer to one's health. Well in this case is an adjective. This is the only use of well as an adjective-to mean healthy, not sick.

Feel good means to feel happy.

So in Bocchi's answer above-"I can't feel well but I feel good this morning"-the sick speaker in the hospital is saying that he can't feel healthy, but he does feel happy, or in a good state of mind.

Compare feel good with feel bad (click here). Feel good means to feel happy; feel bad means to feel unhappy.

(Feel badly, as well as feel bad, meaning to feel unhappy, guilty, or uneasy, does exist, as described in Quirk et al., A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Longman, 1985, p. 408-409). It has become acceptable, according to The American Heritage Dictionary's usage entry under bad. Still, Quirk notes that " there are prescriptive objections to the adverb form.badly with feel.")

RSK

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