Proceed with Caution

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In these sentences, decide if one word is correct or both.

1. I felt (bad/badly) about giving Felix so little time to rehearse his role in our skit.
2. I was worried about Felix’s performance, but he did (good/well).

The bad and the good

In #1 does “felt badly” sound more sophisticated than “felt bad”? Careful, now! We don’t make decisions based on what sounds more sophisticated; we decide based on grammar rules. Then we really sound good.

Although many smart people prefer “felt badly,” it’s wrong. Yes, we might “drive badly” or “sing badly,” but remember that a few verbs – like “is,” “seem,” “appear,” and “feel” – are called linking verbs. They don’t convey any action, like “drive” or “sing”; they just connect. And most of them don’t throw us off because we can tell what sounds right. (His speech was bad, not badly. The weather seemed bad, not badly.) But watch out for “feel” or “felt.” They take the adjective “bad” as well, not the adverb “badly.”

So in #1 we want I felt bad about giving Felix so little time to rehearse his role in our skit.

Now what about “did good”? Yes, we sometimes say that or “I’m doin’ good” in a slangy way, but, of course, those are incorrect. “Do” is an action verb, so it takes the adverb “well.”

Therefore, in #2 we want I was worried about Felix’s performance, but he did well.

I hope you did well on the brief quiz.

You can go to http://www.normfriedman.com/index.shtml to learn more about my workshops on writing in the workplace, individual coaching, editing, and handbook – 100+ Instant Writing Tips. Thank you.

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