I certainly wouldn't argue that "I feel good" should be replaced with "I feel well," but I have forgotten what we used to call the adjective in this type of construction. Adjective predicate? Adjective nominative? Phrasal adjective?

  • Is "Rest easy" similarly constructed? May 23, 2014 at 22:53
  • I think you're talking about predicative usages (John is good), as opposed to attributive (He's a good person). May 23, 2014 at 23:17

2 Answers 2


That would be a predicate adjective. Instead of an adverb describing how the subject is doing the verb, the predicative adjective simply describes the subject, thanks to the help of a "linking verb" as this website so cutely puts it:


Note that this phenomenon can only occur with verbs that are sort of 'modifications' of "to be". So:

I feel good = My body is well
Those shoes look good = Those shoes are good based on their looks (as opposed to their smell, perhaps).
Rest easy = Be easy (wowee!)

Hope that helps!

  • 1
    Some link verbs describe a transformation to a new state: The old man became unwell / It grew dark / The well ran dry. Others have more semantic content: The rose blushed pink / Frans Van Coetsem's research ranged wide. May 23, 2014 at 23:23
  • @EdwinAshworth The terms resultative and depictive are often used.
    – user28567
    May 24, 2014 at 3:22
  • @EdwinAshworth you're right, but transformation linking verbs will all reduce to "become" which is etymologically, syntactically and semantically related to "be". The idea of "linking verbs" syntactically at least comes down to the sorts of verbs that are like "be".
    – McGurk
    May 24, 2014 at 18:14
  • This is a fairly simple neat analysis that doesn't really cover all bases. In the first instance, admittedly, the copula is just a dummy 'connector verb' to adapt 'Daddy here' into the more acceptable form 'Daddy is here'. However, the syntax has been extended even as far as 'desirable' (if I may add this term to the usual ones snailboat mentions) in the complex catenation structure : 'She wished the man dead / happy'. May 24, 2014 at 19:00
  • Right so when I say a verb 'reduced' to 'to be' or "to become", I mean the deep-structure for a sentence with that verb would be identical to one with "to be" or "to become" with the same theta-role assignments and argument/specifier relationships. I just didn't want to get that technical.
    – McGurk
    May 25, 2014 at 1:04

The term "subject complement" is applied to "good".

But since "good" is an adjective that functions as predicative within the predicate "feel good", the term "predicative adjective (adjectival)" is sometimes used. The choice between "predicative agjective" or "predicative adjectival" is determined by whether this element is an adjective or an adjectival phrase (in "I feel unbelievably good": "unbelievably good" is a predicative adjectival).

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