Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again

by Mignon Fogarty

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by Mignon Fogarty

Bad is an adjective and badly is an adverb, so usually you use badly to modify a verb because most verbs are action verbs:

No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly.
 -Clark Gable playing Rhett Butler in the movie Gone with the Wind
There’s an exception, though – you use bad to modify liking verbs such as be, is, and was:

What Saleem did was bad enough. Becoming like him would be worse.
-Cote de Pablo playing Ziva David in the TV show NCIS: Naval Criminal
     Investigative Service

When you’re talking about your emotions, the right thing to say is that you feel bad, not that you feel badly, because feel is a linking verb when it refers to your emotions rather than your sense of touch.

Quick and Dirty Tip:
If you can replace a verb with a form of to be (such as is or was) without dramatically changing the meaning of the sentence, it is a linking verb.


Reprinted from Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again by Mignon Fogarty with permission of the publisher, St. Martin's Press. Copyright © 2011 by Mignon Fogarty, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Mignon Fogarty

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