‘Feel' or 'Felt': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on May 12, 2023

When it comes to confusing words like 'feel' or 'felt,' it is beneficial to learn the definitions, meanings, pronunciations, and grammar rules that apply. So, I am going to cover each of those in this guide.

There is a quick answer if you need one.

So, are you in a hurry?

If so, here it is: 

  • 'Feel' is a present-tense verb that means to experience being touched or touching something. 
  • 'Felt' is the past-tense form of 'feel,' which indicates that someone experienced the sensation of being touched or touching something in the past. 

While that tells you the fundamental differences, you will benefit from reading the rest of this guide. I promise it will be informative and help you improve your grammar in other situations. So, I hope you stick around till the end.

What is the Difference Between 'Feel' and 'Felt?'

These two words are two forms of the same word. So, the question is not really 'What's the difference' but 'When do you use it?'

  • Use 'feel' in the present tense.

For example, you could say:

                    Did you feel the wind blowing last night?

  • Use 'felt' when describing the action of someone feeling something in the past.

For example, someone might say:

                    It felt windy last night. 

For example, if you worked at a fabric store, you might have someone ask you:

The felt was on sale last week, but you were out of the galaxy pattern. Will you honor the sale price now that it is back in stock?

Definition of 'Feel': What Does 'Feel' Mean?

'Feel' is most frequently used as a verb, and according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it means:

  • To experience the sensation of touch

It can also mean:

  • To experience the sensation of something else touching you
  • To experience something through touch
  • To perceive something emotionally
  • To have an instinct, hunch, or intuition about something
  • To understand someone
  • To comprehend a concept
  • To sympathize with someone
  • To experience something physical like pain

As a noun, it means:

  • The ability to perceive touch
  • A characteristic
  • The gift of intuition
  • Synonyms of 'Feel'
  • Sense
  • See
  • Perceive
  • Sympathize
  • Expect
  • Suspect
  • Ascertain
  • Witness
  • Discover
  • Experience
  • Observe
  • Speculate
  • Guess
  • Surmise
  • Assume

Phrases Containing 'Feel'

Definition of 'Felt': What Does 'Felt' Mean?

You already know that 'felt' is the past tense form of the verb 'feel.' What you do not know is the meaning of the noun form, which the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as:

  • Cloth is made by combining wool and fur with synthetic materials

It also means:

  • Something made out of felt material
  • Material that looks or feels similar to felt fabric

Synonyms of 'Felt'

  • Perceived
  • Sensed
  • Expected
  • Heard
  • Saw
  • Recognized
  • Realized
  • Acknowledged
  • Foretold
  • Foresaw
  • Prophecized
  • Discovered

Phrases Containing 'Felt'

  • It felt amazing
  • Felt their pain
  • Felt like forever
  • Felt-tip
  • Felt-tip pen
  • Felt like
  • Felt furniture
  • Felt storyboard
  • Felt sorry
  • Felt material
  • Felt board

How to Know When to Use 'Felt' or 'Feel'

Despite the information we've covered, it can still be challenging to know when to use 'felt' or 'feel.' So, here is a little cheat sheet you can use.

When to Use Present vs. Past Tense Verbs

Your verb and the subject or noun associated must be in the same tense. It is past tense if you are writing in a passive voice about a past event. When you are writing about something current or ongoing, it is the present tense or active voice. So, you have to choose the correct noun and verb to match.

Here are some examples:

  • I 'feel' sorry for her.
  • I 'felt' sorry for her.


  • You 'feel' the effects of the legislation.
  • You 'felt' the effects of the legislation.

As you can see, the two words can replace each other, but they cannot be used interchangeably with the same meaning. When you change 'feel' to 'felt,' you change the meaning to something actively occurring to a past event.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Feel' or 'Felt'

Learning the difference between two words is great, but knowing how to pronounce them accurately is important too. If your pronunciation is inaccurate, people may misunderstand you. You are also less likely to use problematic words if you are not confident in your ability to say them correctly.

So, here is a pronunciation guide:

  • 'Feel' is pronounced exactly like it is spelled:


  • 'Felt' is also pronounced the way it is spelled:


Examples of 'Feel' and 'Felt' Used in a Sentence

We covered a lot of information. Now, read these sample sentences to ensure you are able to use them in spoken and written sentences.


  • Do you feel like you fit in?
  • How often do you feel alone? You can always come to our house when you get lonely.
  • I'm sure after I shed some light on the situation, you will feel differently.
  • It is amazing that animals can feel danger before seeing it.
  • Some people have the ability to feel or sense events before they occur.
  • I feel like you two complement each other well.
  • I am happy to hear that you feel better.


  • He felt the impact of the snowball effect of his financial decisions for years.
  • Our entire organization felt your absence.
  • Have you ever felt the fur of a baby bear?
  • Have you ever felt something before it happened?
  • I will never forget how I felt when our neighbor's cat came to our door during the winter storm.
  • I felt like I might be making a mistake, but I had to let it in.
  • In the morning, I felt like I needed to check on our house guest. When I did, I saw that she had given birth to a litter of kittens while we were sleeping.


  • How do you feel today? I know you felt bad yesterday. So, I wanted to check in on you.
  • Have you felt this way for a long time? Does your family know you feel like this?
  • Do you feel you are able to overcome this alone after what you felt in the past?
  • The last kitten is the runt of the litter. At first, I didn't feel like it was going to make it. I felt like there might be a 50/50 chance of survival.

The Last Word on When to Use 'Feel' or 'Felt'

After reading this guide, you should be able to decide whether to use the present or past tense word. However, just to be sure, here is a quick recap of what you learned about when and how to use 'feel' or 'felt':

  • 'Feel' is a verb that you use to say that someone is actively experiencing the sensation of touch. 
  • 'Felt' is the past tense form of 'feel,' so it implies that someone experienced the physical sensation of something in the past. 

In English, there are many confusing words. So, before you leave, take a look at the other guides here. Each is full of valuable information that will help you improve your communication skills.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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