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Troublesome Modifiers


Troublesome Modifiers

This post will help you recognize and correct errors that you might make when using bad and badly, good and well, real and really Slow and Slowly in your writing.

Troublesome Modifiers

Bad and Badly

Bad is an adjective; it describes nouns and pronouns. Usually, bad follows a linking verb such as feel, look, taste, sound, and smell.

Badly is an adverb; it modifies verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.



You may remember that many adverbs end in –ly. Use the –ly ending of badly as a reminder that this word is an adverb.

  • The recording sounds bad. [Bad follows the linking verb sounds.] 
  • The sound system needs repairs badly. [Badly modifies the verb needs.]


Troublesome Modifiers NOTE

In standard, formal English, only the adjective form, bad, follows a linking verb. You may hear people using the expression feel badly. This usage is informal. In your formal writing and speaking, always use the adjective form, bad, after a linking verb.

  • Thelma feels badly about the mistake. [Badly is an adverb; it should not follow the linking verb feels.] 
  • Thelma feels bad about the mistake. [The adjective bad should follow the linking verb feels.]

Good and Well

Good is an adjective; it usually describes a noun or a pronoun.

Well may be used as an adjective or an adverb.

Avoid using good to modify a verb. Instead, use well as an adverb meaning “capably” or “satisfactorily.”

  • His drum solo sounded good. [The adjective good follows the linking verb sounded and describes the noun solo.] 
  • Does the drummer usually play well? [The adverb well modifies the verb phrase Does play.]
Feel good and feel well mean different things.

If you feel good, you feel happy or pleased.

If you feel well, you feel healthy.

  • The soccer team felt good about their victory. [The team felt pleased.] 
  • Because of the fever, Janet does not feel well. [Janet does not feel healthy.]

Real and Really

Real is an adjective; it is used to describe nouns and pronouns.

Really is an adverb meaning “truly” or “actually.”Really can be used to modify verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.


Troublesome Modifiers TIP

You may remember that many adverbs end in –ly. Use the –ly ending of really as a reminder that this word is an adverb.

  • Is that a real autograph? [Real is an adjective and describes the noun autograph.] 
  • Max gave Sandy a really beautiful charm for her bracelet. [Really is an adverb and modifies the adjective beautiful.]


Troublesome Modifiers NOTE

In informal situations, you may hear people using real as an adverb. It is best, however, to use the adverb really in your formal speaking and writing.

  • Is Fredric real nervous about his solo? 
  • Is Fredric really nervous about his solo? [The adverb really modifies the adjective nervous.]

Slow and Slowly

Slow can be used as an adjective or an adverb.

Slowly is used only as an adverb

Usually, it is better to use slowly instead of slow when you need an adverb.

  • At the prom, they danced to several slow songs. [Slow modifies the noun songs.] 
  • The climb up the mountain was slow. [Slow follows the linking verb was and modifies the noun climb.] 
  • At the prom, they danced slowly. [Slowly modifies the verb danced.] 
  • We climbed slowly up the mountain. [Slowly modifies the verb climbed.]

Troublesome Modifiers Interactive Quizizz Quiz

Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎


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