Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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December 1, 1996 |
In a recent Beebopareebop sketch, your English teacher tells us that "lousy" is an adverb in the sentence "He felt lousy" because it modifies the verb. I'm an engineer, not an English teacher, but I don't think you're right. "lousy" does not modify the verb, "felt" -- it modifies the subject, "he". I think what you've got is a predicate nominative (subject complement), with "felt" is a linking verb.
You're an engineer, Brent, so you're probably better at diagramming sentences than I, and if you think that's a predicate nominative, I'm going to go along with you. I'm a writer and so my specialty is the human heart and the great roller-coaster ride of passion and anguish and anger and wonderment that we call "life" and if, as I write my great sagas of the American plains and the powerful dreams and emotions of the people out here, I had to concern myself with whether something was an adverb or a predicate nominative, I just wouldn't be able to pursue my art at all. Anyway, that's how I look at it.