Intentional Word Choice: Did You Write “Feel” When You Meant “Believe”?

Much of the spoken language slides into our writing, but at times the words we say aren’t the exact fit for what we mean. Check your intention every time!

Consider these sentences from an article about education:

  • How many principals do what they feel will win approval?
  • The public feels certain people shouldn’t be teaching.

Given the context, is “feel” the correct word to express the author’s meaning? No, because the essence of the intended meaning doesn’t come from an emotional “feeling” source. Rather, it comes from a conviction based on experience—a place of belief.

Because of this, the better word choices would be:

  • How many principals do what they believe will win approval?
  • The public believes certain people shouldn’t be teaching.

Your challenge: Question yourself when you select a commonly spoken word. Does it express the exact meaning based on its context?

Specifically, from now on, designate “feel” a red-flag word. Is “feel” the most precise word to convey your intended meaning? If not, replace it with “think” or “believe” or “hope” or another verb until you find exactly the right one to say what you intend to convey.

Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping administrative professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a Word Trippers Tips resource to quickly find the right word when it matters most. It allows you to improve your writing through weekly resources in your inbox, including a webinar, crossword puzzles, and a Word Tripper of the Week for 52 weeks. Enjoy a $30 discount at checkout with the code ODI at


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