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I'm not feeling myself today.

In the sentence above, is 'feeling' a gerund or participle? (I understand that the main verb is 'am', from which I can then ascertain that it is at least one of these two non-finite verb forms.) The phrase 'feeling myself' seems like something that could be swapped out for another adjective -'I'm not happy'; 'I'm not certain' - which makes me think participle. But the fact that it is functioning as the object of the sentence (I think? Or is this a verb without an object?) makes me think gerund.

For context:

"It's alright. You're probably right. I'm not feeling myself today. Ignore me."

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Please be as technical as you can!

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    Noun, verb, or adjective: pick one. Also, if myself is the object of feeling, then it's like feeling the edge of a sharp knife, which is probably not a good idea. That or something unprintable, which is an even worse idea. – tchrist Jan 25 at 23:43
  • I think the author is implying the character is not feeling like themselves today (they are reprimanding themselves for being rude to another character). Would that make 'feeling' just another normal verb? Apologies - still very confused here. – x30 Jan 25 at 23:51
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    Try looking at am feeling as the whole verb there. – Yosef Baskin Jan 26 at 0:01
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    Thank you, Yosef, that really cleared it all up - tchrist's post too. I guess it's more likely that 'am feeling' is just a normal verb, though it is ambiguous here. I think I've been doing this stuff for too long today. – x30 Jan 26 at 0:38
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    No: "am feeling” is not a single syntactic unit, i.e. not a single verb, but two verbs, “am” + “feeling”, where the present participle “feeling” serves as complement of “am” to form the progressive aspect. "Be" is a catenative verb here, so this is a catenative construction where the subordinate clause "feeling myself today" is its catenative complement. There's no object: "myself" is an obligatory predicative complement. Note, though, that there's no need to distinguish gerunds and present participles: simply call them ‘gerund-participles’ (see herisson's answer below). – BillJ Jan 26 at 9:31
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I'm not feeling myself today.

This is a "progressive" or "continuous" construction, where a finite inflected form of the auxiliary BE is followed by an -ing form of the verb FEEL.

I think that currently, in approaches to English grammar that treat the gerund as a distinct form from the -ing participle, the -ing form in this construction is generally categorized a participle (the "present", "progressive", or "active" participle).

Its historical origin appears to be more arguable: äüö's answer to the prior question progressive forms: participle or gerund? cites a source that argues that there were originally two distinct constructions, one with BE + a present participle, and one with BE + preposition + gerund, that ended up being conflated in Middle English.

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston and Pullum, 2002) does not treat the gerund and present participle as distinct inflected forms: it argues for calling the -ing form of verbs the "gerund-participle" rather than using separate terms "gerund" and "present participle" depending on the use.


BE does not take an object. You might be confusing the concepts of "object" and "complement". A complement is, roughly, some element that "completes" the meaning of a phrase; objects are just one type of complement. When the complement of a verb is a noun phrase, that noun phrase is called the "(direct) object" of the verb; but verbs can take other types of complements, such as preposition phrases ("I am in the garden") or adjective phrases, as in your example ("I'm not happy").

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