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I Feel Like a Fool…And a Cup of Coffee

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QUESTION
:
Lilin from China wants to know the meanings of the phrase “feel like.”

ANSWER:
The phrase “feel like” can be confusing because it has two different meanings, both of which are very commonly used.

First, “feel like” is used to mean being in the mood for something or wanting to do something.  We can ask, “Do you feel like seeing a movie tonight?” meaning “Are you in the mood to see a movie tonight?” or “Do you want to see a movie tonight?”  We use this phrase all the time in conversation to express our preferences:

  • “I feel like having chicken for dinner.”
  • “Do you feel like going swimming?”
  • “I feel like staying home instead of going to a party tonight.”
  • “I feel like telling my boss what I really think of her!”

A different way to use “feel like” is to mean that someone or something is similar to someone or something else.  When we say, “I feel like an idiot or a fool” we mean that we feel stupid, as though we are a person who is an idiot or a fool.  However, we can use it to express many different things:

  • “I feel like a queen in this new dress.”
  • “I feel like an idiot trying to learn to swim as an adult.”
  • “On the first day in my new job, I felt like a baby taking his first steps.”
  • “It’s November already, but it’s so hot, it feels like the middle of summer.”

The only way to know which meaning is being expressed is by looking at the context (the words around it).

Do you ever feel like banging your head against the wall in frustration because English feels like an impossible language to learn?  I hope not!

Thanks, Lilin, for the question, and I hope this is helpful.

~ Lucy

26 Responses to “I Feel Like a Fool…And a Cup of Coffee”

  1. Fred Says:

    T h a n k y o u v e r y m u c h .

  2. ESLPodcast Group Says:

    Great Explanation. I often hear this expression in music.

  3. emiliano Says:

    Yes, that´s great Lucy. I like the phrase very much and it´s very appropriate to some special occasions.
    Sometimes I feel like a fool writing too much here about nearly everything or doing other things without thinking what are the wishes or necessities of my friends.

    Like always your comment is good and well taught, thank you so much Lucy.

  4. ray6 Says:

    That was easy question. Anyway, the explanation was perfect. Thanks for all of your notes :) They’re really helpful!

  5. emiliano Says:

    These days I felt like an idiot going to shopping at 1,30 p.m. with so much heat in Madrid´s streets, but afterward when I returned home I feel like being in the heaven with the air condition working at home.

  6. peter Says:

    Howdy(Hi) Lucy,

    Honest, I feel lazy to take in( going to a movie theater and catch a movie) a movie tonight . Thank you ,though. LOL( laughter out loud)

    Thanks for the elaboration on the matter . As usual ,comprehensive, Coherent (consistent) and to the point. I like your writing style .Before joining you guys,
    I was under the impression that an influential writer must use highfalutin jargon in his /her work ,but you proved me wrong.

    In fact, wring like lying needs to be maintained. When you start out with difficult ,mind boggling words , you must keep it up until the end. I don’t know about you guys ,but for me it is like mission impossible.

  7. peter Says:

    I was gonna add more ,but ” don’t feel like it.” ( wildly used,rather rude)

  8. peter Says:

    Lucy ,

    Could you kindly throw in the difference between cause and deed.

  9. peter Says:

    Lucy,

    Your sentence structures are killing me . They are rock solid. Totally love it. Thanks a million. You have a heart of gold with all your generosity . Believe me ,I am not trying to ingratiate myself with you. If I say something ,it is coming from the bottom of my heart .I am pretty sure, it is the case for all of your students.

    If you don’t believe me, let’s put it to vote.Seriously ,how did you get that far

    Your humble student

    Peter

  10. Julio Says:

    Exactly, I feel like an idiot attempting to learn a very very dificult language as English, but at the same time I feel like very much to learn how to speak and understand English. It is a nonsense topic, I know, but I have to carry on it!
    Good explanation, Dr. Lucy. Thank you very much.
    Best regards from Spain,
    Julio (Jack).

  11. Balj Says:

    Sometimes, I feel like my brain is not working when I remember new words in ESL pod as it needs. But after some time, it come suddenly up to my head as that time passes. I feel like an idiot :-(.

    Balj

  12. Patricia Helena Says:

    After this wonderful explanation by Lucy, I feel like a English Expert… :) :) :) :)

    Great job Lucy, congratulations!

    Patricia, from Brazil

  13. magda Says:

    I found this site next week, but I need to say _ I am loving you. Thanks for sharing this wonderful work . Magda – Brazil – S.Paulo

  14. emiliano Says:

    Thinking about what Lucy has taught to us along so many years, I think that English is in many ways too much polite that our spanish normal way of speaking as even among normal or aducated people we use some expressions that may sound very strong to other hears than ours.
    In my city Madrid no body says “I feel like a fool or an idiot”……to say we have done something stupid or wrong …..NO, we don´t say that.
    Usually we say:
    I feel , or I have been a “gilipollas” doing that, or working so hard, or having this neighbour as a friend.

    This word may be sound badly to foreign hears or even to spaniards outside Madrid, as in fact it may be use as an insult also, but it is not an insult if we use it that way or say it in a friendly conversation to a chap of us….”don´t be a gil…. working so hard by so few money”.

    To us, spaniards, English is even more difficult to learn because we speak not so polite or formal among our family, friends or working fellows.
    So, we have to be always very careful about the rules of other ways of expressions not so natural as ours.

    Now in Spain there are living thousands of Latinoamericanos and in fact they speak more beautifully and polite than spaniards do.
    The reason of that? I don´t know really, but I like the form of their speaking more than ours. To me is much more nice and soft.

  15. Rubens Says:

    Thank you so much for help in my english improvement. Keep up the great work.

  16. peter Says:

    Dear Lucy ,

    About the last part,Learning English is not a mission impossible,at least for me. I did not find it that hard in comparison with other languages like
    Arabic, and French ,but I have to say that it took a lot out of me.It was worth it ,though. English is my second nature now. Believe me or not, it came to me first while communicating under pressure.(No garishness(figure of speech) intended)

  17. peter Says:

    it comes to me first

    sorry for the typo

  18. Myself Says:

    I feel like a totally different, unique and maybe a little strange person in al the world.

  19. umafu Says:

    I am always enjoying ESL pod. Thank you so much Lucy, Jeff and all staffs.
    By the way, I thought “feel like” expression which means wanting to do something is always followed by “ing” form.
    Is this correct?

  20. kobe.Su Says:

    Thanks LUCY and Lilin
    I didnt know the meaning for feel like of wanting to do sth until you point it out with this Blog“thanks a lot.
    i feel like staying at ESL for more intersting topics.

    ESL feels like a big family for all of us, welcome home to all friends~“`
    kobe in China

  21. heinzeric Says:

    Thanks Lucy for your detailed explanation. One additional question, please: what means the headline of the song of Fiction Factory “Feels Like Heaven” exactly? Feels (=emotions) like I’m the heaven, or feels like I’m in heaven (similar to an adjectiv)?

  22. Dr. Lucy Tse Says:

    umafu says: By the way, I thought “feel like” expression which means wanting to do something is always followed by “ing” form. Is this correct?
    - No, “feels like” does not always have to be followed by the -ing form. These pairs of sentences mean the same thing: “I feel like having chicken for dinner.” + “I feel like chicken for dinner.”; “We feel like swimming.” + “We feel like a swim.”

    heinzeric: One additional question, please: what means the headline of the song of Fiction Factory “Feels Like Heaven” exactly? Feels (=emotions) like I’m the heaven, or feels like I’m in heaven (similar to an adjectiv)?
    - It means that it feels like heaven, or as though you’re in heaven. In other words, it feels very, very good, like it’s the best possible feeling.

  23. Vania Says:

    My dear Lucy, I have been getting good results at English Language. Today, I am much better than in the past. For sure, I’m grateful for the great job that you are doing for the foreigner students. Every day, I feel like listening to your explanation and all good scripts that most times I’m related to them, and making me laugh. Thanks for giving the chance to learn a little more about your culture and about you language. I also wanted to tell that I love when I learn a bit more about american authors, and enjoying here, I would like to ask you to talk more often about them.
    Sincerally thankful, Vania from Brazil.

  24. heinzeric Says:

    Dr. Lucy Tse Says: It means that it feels like heaven, or as though you’re in heaven. In other words, it feels very, very good, like it’s the best possible feeling.
    - I though so as well, but do you know the lyrics? If I’ve got translate it right, rather it should called: Feels like Hell.

  25. Leehg Says:

    Yes, I’ve experienced the feeling of wanting to bang my head against the floor cos I didn’t know how to express my ideas. I knew it would hurt seriously so I bang my head against my pillow instead haha

  26. Linda Mirano Says:

    Thank you so much for another great article. Where else could anyone get that sort of information in such a perfect way of writing? I’m having a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.