Errors in the use of Adjectives and Adverbs with Sense Verbs
The following verbs require adjective modifiers:
sound look smell taste feel seem
These verbs are all “sense verbs,” or verbs that describe someone’s sensation or feeling or perception. Unlike other verbs, they require adjective, not adverb, modifiers.
Incorrect: The strawberry shortcake tastes deliciously.
Correct: The strawberry shortcake tastes delicious.
Sense verbs convey personal opinions, thoughts, and perceptions in an inherently subjective manner – that is, they describe someone’s personal experience. The sentence “The strawberry shortcake tastes delicious,” has essentially the same meaning as “The strawberry shortcake tastes delicious to me,” or “I think the strawberry shortcake tastes delicious.” Because each sentence describes the attributes of the shortcake as seen through the eyes (and mouth) of an observer, each sentence should use the same version of the modifier: the delicious shortcake.
Another way to approach this sentence is to think about it as a “sandwich.” When a sense verb is sandwiched between a noun and a modifier, the modifier should always agree with the noun.
Some sense verb modifiers are commonly misused in speech. Be especially careful with these; just because they sound right doesn’t mean they are right. Sometimes these errors arise from the misinterpretation of a popular grammar rule. Here’s a common example:
After she returned from the three-week vacation, she looked very well.