JS Tip 35: From the Communications Workshops: Using “Bad” or “Badly”

Kelly Waldron of Zions Bank asked about using “bad” or “badly” as in “Her comments made me feel badly.”

The correct answer is “Her comments made me feel bad.” Bad, not badly.

“Badly” (and just about any other word that ends in “-ly”) is an adverb. Adverbs modify (tell us something about) verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

Saying “I feel badly” means that our feeling, our sense of touch, is impaired. We’re wearing thick leather gloves with woolen inserts that prevent us from feeling the keyboard. Or the gear shift. Or the baby’s hair. We feel badly.

“Bad” is an adjective. It modifies (tells us something about) nouns. When we say “I feel bad,” we’re saying we’ve have been hurt. We feel sad. We feel bad.

One internet writer wrote “You feel bad—you don't feel badly, unless your hands are damaged!”

Now: Is this worth losing friends over? Probably not. It it worth challenging your in-laws? Absolutely not

But it does make a difference.

If you have questions about communication, leadership, customer service, or anything else, let us know. We love this stuff.