‘I feel myself good’ and ‘I feel myself well’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

A common error among beginning English speakers is to say “I feel myself” instead of “I feel”, which is understandable because this is the way you would say it in most other European languages. In English, “to feel” already expresses the idea of having a certain feeling. For example,

I feel very good today. (correct)
I feel myself very good today. (wrong)

Although the phrase “feel oneself” (or “feel like oneself”) exists in English, it means something else. Apart from its possible use as a sexual euphemism (“to feel oneself” could be interpreted as a euphemism for masturbation), it means “to feel normal, to be in one’s usual mood” and is usually used in the negative, as in

I don’t know what happened, but I don’t feel myself today.

Another typical mistake learners make in this phrase is using an adverb instead of an adjective. The pattern is “I feel [adjective]”, where the adjective expresses how you feel. Using an adverb is a mistake:

I feel great. (correct)
I feel greatly. (wrong)

Nevertheless, the sentence “I feel well” is grammatically correct. How is this possible? Somewhat surprisingly, “well”, apart from being the adverbial form of “good”, a deep hole in the ground used to obtain water, and an exclamation (as in “Well, well, well. What do we have here?”), it is also an adjective meaning “in good health”.

That’s quite a lot of meanings for one word, isn’t it? Remember, “I feel good” and “I feel well” mean two different things:

I feel good. = I feel happy, satisfied. I experience pleasant feelings.
I feel well. = I feel in good health, as opposed to being ill.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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