The Grammarphobia Blog

Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy

Q: I’m wondering if “feel” can be used to state an opinion, as in “He felt wearing his red shirt would be a lot of fun.” I’ve found websites that say it’s incorrect, but I think you’ve used it in your blog, which gives me hope that it’s fine. By the way, my grandfather, Jimmy Larson, knew you when you were at the Des Moines Register. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, he was the news editor. I’m sad to say he passed away in 2006. I’m now the holder of his copy of Woe Is I.

A: Great to hear from you! Of course I remember Jimmy. He was probably the most memorable person in the Register’s newsroom (and there were a lot of them)! This will sound like a terrible cliché, but they just don’t make newsmen like Jimmy any more.

But on to your question. There’s nothing wrong with using “feel” to express an opinion.

The Oxford English Dictionary has evidence dating back to about the year 1000 for the use of “feel” to refer to mental activity – that is, awareness of or thinking of something.

Here are some later, more specific usages cited by the OED, along with the dates they first appeared in print:

? To be conscious of a fact or to entertain a conviction (late 1200s).

? To be in a particular frame of mind (about 1340).

? To express a belief or judgment, or to think, feel or hold an opinion (1382).

I hope this helps. Thanks for letting me hear from you.

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