Ugh. Watching Super Why continue its assault on Western Children’s literature, I discover that they have also been taken over by the grammar hypercorrection Nazis.
Wyatt gets in trouble for something, and he walks out, saying, “oh, I feel so badly!” This is wrong. It’s a hypercorrection of the phrase “to feel bad,” under the misconception that “bad,”as an adjective, must be modifying something. Since the only thing around to modify is the verb “feel,” the adjective is corrected to an adverb.
“I feel bad” is the correct phrase, and it’s perfectly fine. “Bad” in this case is a substantive adjective, an adjective functioning as a noun. You feel something and the feeling that you feel is “bad,” a generic term covering a wide array of negative physical and emotional sensations – pain, guilt, sorrow, sadness, etc.
“I feel badly” means something quite different from “I feel bad.” “Badly” means that the verb being performed is done ineffectively, or incorrectly. So a person who feels badly either has leprosy, making them unable to feel physical sensations, an emotional disorder that gives them inappropriate feelings, such as the desire to laugh at funerals, or perhaps some form of synesthesia or a phantom limb.