Using Feel


Feel can be a copular verb. It is then followed by an adjective or a noun complement.

  • A baby’s hand feels smooth.
  • I always feel sleepy on Mondays.
  • When she realized what she had done, Alice felt (= thought that she was) a complete idiot.

Feel can be used with a personal subject (I, you etc.) to talk about feelings that are going on at a particular moment. Both simple and progressive forms are possible. There is little difference of meaning.

  • I feel fine. (= I am feeling fine.)
  • Do you feel happy? (= Are you feeling happy?)
  • ‘How are you feeling?’ ‘Not too bad, but I still have a slight headache.’

Feel can be used, usually with a non-personal subject, to mean give somebody sensations. Progressive forms are not used.

  • A baby’s hand feels smooth. (NOT — is feeling smooth.)
  • That feels nice. (NOT — is feeling nice.)

Feel like; feel as if/though

Feel like something means have a desire for something. It is normally followed by an -ing form.

  • I feel like (having) a drink. (= I would like to have a drink.)
  • I feel like going for a walk. (= I would like to go for a walk.)
  • He was so rude. I felt like slapping his face. (= I wanted to slap him.)
  • I felt like crying. (= I wanted to cry.)

It is possible to put a clause after feel like. The meaning is similar to as if/ as though.

  • She felt like she was in a dream. (= It seemed as if she was in a dream.)

Compare:

  • I felt like swimming. (= I wanted to swim.)
  • I felt like/as if I was swimming. (= It seemed as if I was swimming.)

Feel as an ordinary verb

The ordinary verb feel can be followed by an object. It is used to talk about the physical sensations that come to us through the sense of touch.

  • He gently felt the smoothness of her cheek.
  • Just feel how cold my hands are.

It is possible to use an -ing form after the object.

  • I could feel a chill running down my spine.
  • He could feel the sweat trickling down his neck.

Feel is often used to talk about reactions and opinions. It is then followed by a that-clause.

  • I feel certain that I am right.
  • She felt that she could no longer carry on.
  • I felt that she was lying to me.
  • I felt that she was arrogant.