Friday, October 22, 2004

CNB Grammar Geek -- "Feel Badly v. Feel Bad"

As the millions of CNB readers know, CNB usually has some political, nearly exclusively presidential, entry. This entry, however, is a public service to the English language from the CNB Grammar Geek.

If you use the phrase "I feel badly" to describe sympathy, shame, or some other related emotion, please understand that you really mean to say "I feel bad." I know, I know -- you use adverbs to modify verbs (see, I told you this was from a geek). However, please note that you are not modifying an action verb (the act of using your hands to feel), you are describing your physical/emotional state. For example, you "feel bad" that the Cubs had a crappy season, but you "feel badly" after the seventeen beers you drank to drown your sorrows. An easy analogy: you "feel sad", you don't "feel sadly." [for the geeks noting that CNB put punctuation both inside and outside quotation marks in that sentence -- find your fix on that issue here]

Some find the "feel badly" use acceptable, likening it to "I feel strongly on the issue" (which CNB thinks is a worse analogy than CNB's sad/sadly example, if for no other reason than ego). Other grammarians point out that "feel badly" is so widely used, that it is now accepted, in a way that any modification of the word "unique" appears to be acceptable.

Fine. Kill the English language. CNB thinks we need a few grammar rules to remain before text-messaging, IMing, and those damned blogs (irony lost) put us in a place where "U R Kewl" suffices as an alternative wedding vow.

I know that many don't care about this issue (what with elections and all), but "nukular" and "idear" are not the only language atrocities being committed.