He behaves terribly badly/ bad

jstrano

Member
Spanish
Hello! I have this question:

Which one is correct? Terribly badly (since badly is an adverb and it can modify another adverb) or terribly bad (which sounds more natural to my non-native ear)

The sentence would be:

He behaves terribly bad(ly).


Thanks in advance!
 
  • Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    He is terribly bad. (adjective)

    He works terribly badly. (adverb)

    Note: The above sentences are not very good because "terrible" and "bad" have very similar meanings. You should choose one or the other.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "He behaves terribly badly" sounds much better to us, and it's the only form likely to be accepted in writing or in school. The other form may get used occasionally among some speakers in informal conversation.
     

    jstrano

    Member
    Spanish
    "He behaves terribly badly" sounds much better to us, and it's the only form likely to be accepted in writing or in school. The other form may get used occasionally among some speakers in informal conversation.

    I see, but can you say

    He is terrible bad(ly?) at football.

    Thank you
     

    User With No Name

    Senior Member
    English (U.S. - Texas)
    He is terrible bad(ly?) at football.
    The only option would be "He is terribly bad at football." "Terribly" is an adverb modifying the adjective "bad."

    That leaves aside the issue that "terribly bad" sounds, well, terribly bad because of the similarity in meaning between "terrible" and "bad."

    The idiomatic option, at least in the U.S., would be either "He is terrible at football," or perhaps "He is awful at football."
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    All of the above said, "good" and "bad" are used as adverbs in English, especially in speech:
    Hence:
    I feel good (well), he plays bad (badly), etc.
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    He is terrible bad(ly?) at football.

    As said above, it would be "terribly bad," but be aware that in that sentence, "terribly" means "muy," and not "pésimamente." Also, in that sense it has a rather high register. In normal speech, we'd be more likely to say that he is really/very/extremely bad at football. Well, in AmEn, we'd say soccer, but that's another matter.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    All of the above said, "good" and "bad" are used as adverbs in English, especially in speech:
    Hence:
    I feel good (well), he plays bad (badly), etc.
    He plays badly.:tick:
    He plays bad.:cross:
    [Wrong, but you may hear it in speech.]

    I feel good.:tick:
    [An adjective is correct after feel = sentirse.]
    I feel bad.:tick:
    I feel badly. [With an adverb, feel = palpar.]
    I feel well.:tick: [Well as an adjective is the opposite of ill.]
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    True, but "good" is not an adjective there.

    I'm not sure about that. Here is what a dictionary says:

    usage: The use of good as an adverb, esp. after forms of do, is common only in informal speech: He did good on the test. In formal speech or edited writing the adverb well is used instead: He did well on the test. The adjective good is standard after linking verbs like taste, smell, look, feel, be, and seem: Everything tastes good. You're looking good today. When used after look or feel, good may refer to spirits as well as health. Well as an adjective used after look, feel, or other linking verbs often refers to good health: You're looking well; we missed you while you were in the hospital.
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    That dictionary definition is a collection of usage examples, rather than attempting a convincing categorization of things.
    The main function of an adverb is to modify a verb. The main function of an adjective is to modify a noun.

    So, yes, "You are looking well" can be an adjective if the "well" applies to the subject in the sense of well/unwell (health).

    But, for the most part, "I feel good" == "Me siento bien" (rather than "me siento, sano, bueno, espléndido, etc"), and "good" is an adverb, or used as such.

    And, for example, "You are doing good", I can't imagine how it could be applied to the person rather than to the verb.
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    The main function of an adverb is to modify a verb. The main function of an adjective is to modify a noun.

    Yes, but as the usage commentary is intended to show, there are certain verbs such as "to feel" that behave a bit differently from other verbs. When we say "I feel good," the word good is not modifying the manner in which I feel, but rather describing my state of feeling. Therefore, it is like saying "I feel in a way that is good."
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    And, for example, "You are doing good", I can't imagine how it could be applied to the person rather than to the verb.
    Unfortunately, good in this particular sentence could be a noun, the opposite of evil.

    But in "He did good on the test", the speaker probably means "He did well on the test", with "well" as an adverb, the opposite of "poorly".
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    A predicate adjective modifies the subject.
    True (or the object). If it is an adjective at all.
    I still see no reason to consider something that in Spanish would translate as "bien" as an adjective.


    [Edit]: also, at least in Spanish grammar, we restrict the denomination of "copulative" to those verbs that are really devoid of any meaning without a complement (ser and estar).
    For those, having a complement is mandatory, (by definition a mandatory predicative).
    But the predicative doesn't speak about the kind of word ("part of speech", I hate that terminology) that composes it.
    In "Estoy bien", "bien" is a mandatory predicative, but still an adverb.
     
    Last edited:

    FromPA

    Senior Member
    USA English
    True (or the object). If it is an adjective at all.
    I still see no reason to consider something that in Spanish would translate as "bien" as an adjective.


    [Edit]: also, at least in Spanish grammar, we restrict the denomination of "copulative" to those verbs that are really devoid of any meaning without a complement (ser and estar).
    For those, having a complement is mandatory, (by definition a mandatory predicative).
    But the predicative doesn't speak about the kind of word ("part of speech", I hate that terminology) that composes it.
    In "Estoy bien", "bien" is a mandatory predicative, but still an adverb.
    In English, the standard is also “I feel well,’ but again, it is an adjective, not an adverb. A copulative verb cannot take an object because it does not express an action performed by the subject. As with the verb “to be,” it expresses the state or identity of the subject. It’s like an equal sign (=) in an algebraic expression.
    I feel/am lonely/hungry/angry (predicate adjectives)
    I am John/a Catholic/an American (predicate nominatives)
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    A copulative verb cannot take an object because it does not express an action performed by the subject. As with the verb “to be,” it expresses the state or identity of the subject. It’s like an equal sign (=) in an algebraic expression.
    All of this is good and well, but is irrelevant, because:
    - Whatever you call that "good" syntactically doesn't help your case.
    - Even adverbs, as I explained before, could still function as a predicative.
    - Predicatives modify both the verb and the subject (or object)

    You are in some sort of tautological loop that I don't understand, saying that the "good" in "I feel good" is an adjective because it is a predicative, and that it is a predicative because it is an adjective.

    I feel/am lonely/hungry/angry (predicate adjectives)
    I am John/a Catholic/an American (predicate nominatives)
    The discussion about when a verb is really copulative is an interesting one, but, because what I said above, ultimately irrelevant.
    I am ready to accept that the definition of what is a copulative verb in Spanish (ser and estar only) might be too restrictive.
    But your examples with "feel" above don't prove any inherent need of an adjective.
    The "hungry" in "I feel hungry" is an adjective alright, but the following complements are not:
    - I feel like swimmig
    - I feel in excellent condition today


    And I am yet to be convinced how "in excellent condition" differs from "good", or is adjectival in nature mainly modifying the subject, instead of referring mainly to how I feel.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    In "I feel angry", for example, "angry" does refer to "how I feel", but that does not make it an adverb.

    Si digo "Parece enojado", ¿es adverbio este "enojado"?

    ¿Tiene sentido "Parece alegremente"?
     

    FromPA

    Senior Member
    USA English
    You are in some sort of tautological loop that I don't understand, saying that the "good" in "I feel good" is an adjective because it is a predicative, and that it is a predicative because it is an adjective.
    It's a predicative functioning as an adjective, and the noun it's modifying is the subject.

    The "hungry" in "I feel hungry" is an adjective alright, but the following complements are not:
    - I feel like swimmig
    - I feel in excellent condition today

    And I am yet to be convinced how "in excellent condition" differs from "good", or is adjectival in nature mainly modifying the subject, instead of referring mainly to how I feel.

    "Feel like" has a completely different meaning (want/desire) that is not copulative. Likewise, when the verb feel refers to your tactile sense, it is not copulative. "I feel badly" means your tactile sense is impaired. "I feel bad" refers to your emotional state.

    The prepositional phrase "in excellent condition" is modifying the subject. There's scant difference between that and saying "I am in excellent condition."
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    "I feel badly" means your tactile sense is impaired. "I feel bad" refers to your emotional state.
    This is true only in the narrow sense that suits your argument. There is no such taxative distinction, the senses of "bad" and "badly" overlap a lot.

    And just as a point of order: establishing that a verb is "copulative" allows us to make some automatical assumptions regarding syntax, such as:
    - that some complement is needed,
    - that we call that "a predicative", and
    - that said predicative modifies both the verb and the subject.
    But, what we cannot do, is using those syntactic assumptions backwards to justify what kind of word the compement was in the first place.
    And the reason why we cannot do it, is because our assumptions about the meaning of those words ("good") is what drove the syntactic analysis in the first place.

    And not only that: the "copulative" character of a verb is (and consequently, how "mandatory" its predicative would be) is also irrelevant to this discussion, because adverbs can also function as predicatives. As a matter of fact, the more "copulative" the verb (whatever your standards), the more of a predicative what follows is, even if what follows is an adverb.

    That leaves us with the semantic approach: simply what we perceive or understand that those words are.

    To offer the Spanish perspective (my perspective, in any case):
    It is true that when we say "Estoy enfermo" and "Me siento mal" the end result is more or less the same.
    It is also true that, ultimately, the bad(ly) I feel affects myself, the subject.
    But for me, "Me siento mal" is expressing "how well my well-being is manifesting itself". It qualifies and colors my "sentir" (and only distantly and indirectly, myself).

    So "mal" is an adverb however you look at it.

    Why would it be any different in English?
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    From the WR dictionary:
    SpanishEnglish
    mal adv(enfermo o triste) (health)sick, ill adj
    (health, informal)bad, not well adj
    (mood)sad, unhappy adj
    Me siento mal.
    I feel sick.
    This seems to suggest a difference between Spanish grammar and English grammar. In English, sick, ill, bad, unwell, sad, and unhappy are adjectives, but they translate mal, which is labeled "adv.".

    So are enfermo and triste adverbs?
     

    FromPA

    Senior Member
    USA English
    From the WR dictionary:This seems to suggest a difference between Spanish grammar and English grammar. In English, sick, ill, bad, unwell, sad, and unhappy are adjectives, but they translate mal, which is labeled "adv.".

    So are enfermo and triste adverbs?
    Very revealing on the different perspectives of English vs Spanish grammar.
     

    FromPA

    Senior Member
    USA English
    This is true only in the narrow sense that suits your argument. There is no such taxative distinction, the senses of "bad" and "badly" overlap a lot.

    And just as a point of order: establishing that a verb is "copulative" allows us to make some automatical assumptions regarding syntax, such as:
    - that some complement is needed, Yes
    - that we call that "a predicative", and Yes
    - that said predicative modifies both the verb and the subject. No
    But, what we cannot do, is using those syntactic assumptions backwards to justify what kind of word the compement was in the first place. Does not follow if your 3rd automatic assumption is not true.
    And the reason why we cannot do it, is because our assumptions about the meaning of those words ("good") is what drove the syntactic analysis in the first place. What drove the syntactic analysis is the nature of a copulative verb
    I don’t know what a “taxative distinction” means, so I don’t understand what you’re suggesting as an overlap.
    I agree with 2 of your 3 “automatic assumptions” (see above). However, the predicative following a copulative verb does not modify the verb. In what sense can you modify “to be,” which is the essence of a copulative verb?
    Your final assertions fails if your 3rd assumption is not true, which, under English grammar rules, I don’t believe it is.

    There seem to be differences between English and Spanish with respect to copulative verbs. There is a small list of verbs besides “to be” that English treats as the grammatical equivalent of the verb “to be.” That’s evidently not the case in Spanish.
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    - that some complement is needed, Yes
    - that we call that "a predicative", and Yes
    - that said predicative modifies both the verb and the subject. No
    I wasn't trying to "demonstrate" anything here. This is baked into the definition of what "a predicative" is. And I was mentioning all these properties incidentally, they have no bearing in determining if the "good" in "I am good" is an adverb.

    That said, and just for the sake of accuracy, all examples I saw in English about predicatives refer to the specific type of "subjective, mandatory" predicatives. So I don't see how they are not "modifying the subject".

    These are the kinds of predicatives in Spanish:

    Subjective, mandatory: That doctor was an eminence.
    Subjective, non-mandatory: The burglars went alone in the dark night.
    Objective, non-mandatory: Your mother will beat you silly if you keep at it.
    Objective, mandatory: You are making her a prematurely old woman.

    (I am taking some license for the sake of an explanation with the last example, as "hacer" is not condidered copulative in Spanish)



    But, what we cannot do, is using those syntactic assumptions backwards to justify what kind of word the compement was in the first place. Does not follow if your 3rd automatic assumption is not true.
    Actually, that is a statement that is generally true, independeltly of predicatives, etc.


    What drove the syntactic analysis is the nature of a copulative verb
    Well, we all agree that certain verbs seem to be more devoid of autonomous meaning that others.
    What we do in Spanish (in my eyes, correctly) is to speak about "a predicative", as an autonomous level of syntactic analysis, instead of the woefully inadequate "predicative noun", "predicative adjective", etc.


    There is a small list of verbs besides “to be” that English treats as the grammatical equivalent of the verb “to be.” That’s evidently not the case in Spanish.
    You are right, it is not.

    But predicatives are also a required complement of copulative verbs in either language (independently of what verbs we consider "copulative").
    Anything that would normally be fulfilling the function of a circumstantial complement (adverbial in nature), if it is the only thing accompanying a copulative verb, becomes automatically "a predicative", independently of its semantic nature.

    I am very well tonight.
    Tomorrow, we will be in Spain.

    He played very well.
    They played in Spain yesterday.


    The phrases in red are (forcibly) predicatives. The same phrases in blue are not.


    So, if someone tells me that "good" in "I feel good" is an adjective "because it is a predicative", that makes no sense to me.
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    This is an interesting exchange among educated English speakers trying to answer the simple question of what "here" is in "I am here".

    What part of speech does “here” have in “I am here”?

    All kinds of categories are proposed: adverb, noun, pronoun (semantic), predicative (syntactic), even "deictic mark" (from semiotics).
    This is an example of the inadequacy of syntactic analysis as it is taught to them, I think.

    Alas, I don't have enough presence (reputation) in that forum to add my own answer.
     
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