Spiffing y'all up, one typo at a time
I was recently asked by a reader to clarify how to respond when someone asks, “How are you feeling?” I was happy to oblige—y’all know how much I love it when you ask questions! And I’d like to thank her publicly for the fuel for today’s post. (Thanks, sweet reader!)
So what’s the answer, TGB? And why?
My friends, I’d like to quote the grammatically correct Godfather of Soul for this one: “I feel good.”
When someone asks you how you’re feeling, 99.9999% of the time they’re not asking about your sense of touch or how well your hands work. They’re asking you to describe your state of being. To tell them a little something about yourself. To describe yourself.
When you’re describing a noun (e.g., Brandy) or a pronoun (e.g., I), you use an adjective! That’s why I feel good or happy or frustrated.
Did you know it’s also OK to say that you “feel well”? It is, but ONLY in the sense that you’re describing your state of health. It’s the opposite of “feeling ill.” This is also a timely part of the lesson considering I’ve been feeling rotten over the last few days. (I’ve been “punk,” as my former grandmother-in-law [rest her soul] would say.) If you’re simply meaning that your state of being is content, then good is the word you want.
The next time a coworker asks “How are you?” and you say “Well,” please make sure you’ve spent the previous 2 weeks cooped up in bed nursing the flu. The ADJECTIVE well means “not sick.” The ADVERB well means “in a good or proper manner.” Adverbs can’t be used to describe you (or any other pronoun or noun), so they’re better left to talking about how you play ball or how you bake cakes. You can DO many things well, I’m sure of it. You can’t BE well. (Well, unless you’ve been sick.)
And now I feel a lesson on predicate nominatives coming on. . . . I’d better start feeling well soon.
I’m a big fan of the song “Feelin’ Good.” My favorite version on iTunes is by Carmen McRae. My favorite not-yet-on-iTunes version is by my friend Melody and her award-winning quartet, BLAZE!