I have heard it many times in movies and shows. I think it means "I do not feel very good" or "I do not feel as good as you think", but why do we use "that" here, and is it correct?

  • 1
    This is perhaps a better fit for the English Language Learners site. See ell.stackexchange.com
    – nxx
    Mar 3, 2014 at 15:14
  • We use that understanding its meaning to be more or less equivalent to so, or to such a degree: I don't feel so good. I don't feel good to the degree that I usually do. It's informal but very often used in speech. Since movies and books reproduce speech, it's quite common to see. Mar 3, 2014 at 15:23
  • 3
    It's a Negative Polarity Item, equivalent to I do not feel too/very good. All NPIs are idioms and have odd meanings. I doubt that would be addressed on ELL. Mar 3, 2014 at 15:24
  • @JohnL - I don't think you're that far off. If the O.P. wants to learn more about Negative Polarity Items, then this is the right place. If he's merely looking for confirmation that don't feel that good is roughly the same as don't feel very good or don't feel so good, then ELL might be the better place to ask.
    – J.R.
    Mar 3, 2014 at 19:56
  • Note all the above comments, they all use the contraction "don't", this is more natural speech for a native speaker. Mar 4, 2014 at 15:56

4 Answers 4


When someone says 'he/she is not feeling that good' conveys the message that they are not feeling good up to a certain point/level which they normally do in the same condition.

Certainly they are feeling good but not to that level.

Lets take an example:

A business man makes profit of 25% from his business while in the past he made a profit more than 25%, lets say he made 40% profit in the recent past.

In the situation above, the business man can say: He did not make profit that much.

Hopes this helps.

  • "He did not make profit that much" is incorrect grammatically. It should be "He did not profit that much", or "He did not make that much profit." However, you have given a good explanation. I have upvoted your response. Mar 22, 2014 at 16:49

I don't feel too good, I don't feel that good, I don't feel good:

All mean the same thing. 'That' and 'too' are emphasisers in these cases.


In "I do not feel that good", "that" is an adverb, implying, in reality, an extent to which one cannot go; this means "that" is related to degree.

For a broader understanding, "I do not feel good enough (to ...)" or "I do not feel good insofar (...)" are also acceptable.


If both the sentences you have written are taken to mean the same, then 'that' is an adverb used for a degree of comparison. It compares the actual state of the person to the state assumed by the asker.

But then, this is an informal usage. We do not use such sentences in formal writing. In fact, the use of the word 'good' itself is incorrect. One should say, "I do not feel quite well." When we ask someone, "How are you?" we want to know about the person's wellness, not goodness.

Like many other sentences in the English language, this sentence has become acceptable due to widespread usage. But, to be grammatically correct, one should say, "I do not feel quite as well as you think." The sentence with 'that' must be avoided.

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