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How to Use Adjectives with Sense Words

Updated on January 14, 2021Grammar
How to Use Adjectives with Sense Words Image

The English language can be tricky. There are many places a word can go within a sentence, but there are also many places that specific types of words cannot go.

Choosing whether to place an adverb or an adjective after a “sense” verb—such as “feel” or “smells”—is one instance where things get tricky. Sense verbs, unsurprisingly, cover our senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Why is it incorrect to say “I feel happily”? “Happily” is adverb. It describes the action of feeling. Typically, though, sense verbs need a verb complement instead of an adverb. What you need is the adjective “happy,” because adjectives can serve as verb complements.

Her food smells amazingly.
Her food smells amazing.

Adverbs modify adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs, whereas adjectives modify nouns.

I happy ran down the hall.
I happily ran down the hall.

The adverb “happily” is correct here because it modifies the verb “ran,” which is not a sense verb.

And now you can happily use adjectives and adverbs correctly, knowing that sense verbs need adjectives instead of adverbs.

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