The following sentences are frequently heard spoken by people if someone asks them about their well-being (especially when a doctor inquires about a patient's health!) :

I am not feeling well


I am feeling well

But yesterday someone prompted me saying that "feel, taste, smell, realise, etc" are verbs of perception and a continuous tense shouldn't be used. Instead it should be: I feel well.

Is this really so?

My question is, will it not give rise to an ambiguity situation if when a person wishes to express his current state of well-being he uses 'I feel well'? Couldn't he be misinterpreted as if he always feels 'well'?

  • 2
    There's nothing wrong with it that I can see (AmE). "How are you feeling today, Mr. Doe?" "I'm feeling well, thank you." or "I feel very well." This is a common exchange. Neither answer commits someone to that condition permanently. May 26, 2014 at 7:29
  • Medica's observation is accurate. It also applies in the case of British English.
    – Erik Kowal
    May 26, 2014 at 7:37

2 Answers 2


Your friend isn't wrong completely. 'Feel' & 'See' are exceptional cases to verbs of perception.

When feel is used to describe emotions, the progressive(I am feeling great today.) is sometimes used. Please do note the word : SOMETIMES here. Mostly , the non-progressive form is used for the word feel : I feel great today. I feel cold today.

Please take a look at the statement below:

  1. I am feeling great today.
  2. I feel great today.

The statement (1) above will be an answer to someone's question if he is asking about your health as he had known you were not well when you last spoke with him. So it can be used in a progressive form.

Though the second statement can be your answer to a general 'How do you feel?' question when you might not have been ill when you guys last spoke.


One website seems to give what seems to be a rule restricting the use of the continuous to verbs denoting actions:

'We use the Present Continuous Tense to talk about activities happening now.'

[But note that they too include a 'sleeping' example!]

The British Council grammar website presents a truer picture:

  1. We use the present continuous tense to talk about the present:

for something that is happening at the moment of speaking: I’m just leaving work.// The children are sleeping.

So your 'someone' is wrong. He's adopting a broad-brush approach; obviously "Are you seeing the car coming round the corner?" wouldn't normally be used.

But "I feel well" would be interpreted according to context. "I almost always feel well" would indicate [almost] always feeling well, for instance. In answer to a doctor's question "How are you feeling today?" or "How are you since you left hospital?", "I feel well" would refer to the doctor's time indicator.

  • Does it mean that " I am feeling well" is also grammatically correct...? May 26, 2014 at 8:41
  • the person who prompted me further said that since "feel, see, hear, realize, etc " are the actions which are performed by an individual with himself, the rule is not to use continuous mode of tense. Eg. If a person has to state that he/she realizes his/her duty (which is being given to him/her at the ongoing moment), then it'll be stated as : ** I realize it's my duty to help the poor ** instead of ** I am realizing that it is my duty to help the poor** May 26, 2014 at 8:50
  • I think you can go with these two Google Ngrams, which strongly suggest that 'is not feeling too well' is more common than 'does not feel too well'. My perceptions too. Though the preference is reversed for 'am not feeling too well' vs 'do not feel too well'! May 26, 2014 at 8:56
  • 1
    @MaroofKazmi Actually, you could say "I'm slowly realizing that it is my duty to help the poor" - and, by extension, you could say the same thing without the "slowly". The meaning changes between "I realize" and "I am realizing": the former means I already know that it's my duty, while the latter means I am still finding out about this, my attitude about the idea is currently being formed. Similarly, "I'm seeing" can also be used correctly in certain circumstances (eg. "I'm seeing a handsome guy I met at work", meaning, I'm dating him).
    – Alicja Z
    May 26, 2014 at 11:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.