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Feel Good vs. Feel Well

James Brown sang out, “I feel good! I knew that I would.” He felt happy, as we all did when we heard him. Because both good (adjective, noun, adverb) and well (noun, adjective, adverb) serve multiple functions, consider the use of feel in order to choose correctly.


  • I have dropped my ice cream on the sidewalk and I feel badly.
  • His uncle feels goodly today; he had some ice cream too.
  • You received an A on the exam? Wow, you must feel well!


If you feel good, like James Brown did, you’re in good spirits and on top of your game (and maybe you had some ice cream, too). If you feel well, you feel healthy. If you feel bad, you are in pain or feel sorry for yourself. If you feel badly, however, that means your neurological system is messed up and that you may have become numb! You can feel bad over dropping your ice cream; feeling badly may have caused you to let go.


Feel is a linking verb, similar to look and taste. If you write that the “coffee tastes good,” it is the coffee itself that has the good flavor, not the coffee that is capable of tasting! Use an adjective (great, delicious, angry), not an adverb (angrily, beautifully, thrillingly) to describe how you are, feel, taste, look, sound, and smell. James Brown was right! He feels good.

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