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Grammar Mishaps: Good vs. Well
Good or Well?
The general rule with good and well is that well is an adverb and good is an adjective. What this means is that well modifies verbs, adjectives and other adverbs and good modifies nouns.
Unfortunately, there are exceptions to this rule just to keep us on our toes. "Well" may be used when describing if something is proper, healthy or suitable. As in, "I am well (healthy) today."
- That is a good song. (Good is modifying the noun, song.)
- You sang the song very well. (Well is modifying the verb, sang.)
- The bike is pedaling well. (Well is modifying the verb, pedaling.
- The car is in good shape. (Good is modifying the noun, car.)
One exception is with the use of verbs of sensation like touch, feel, looks, hears, and smells. It would be proper to say, "The cake smells good." To say that the cake smells well would imply that the cake has a nose that can smell appropriately. So, to add more confusion, it is also correct to say, "I feel good today." Good refers to how you are physically and spiritually feeling.
How are you feeling?
I feel good. (Think of James Brown's "I Feel Good".)
How are you?
I am well, thank you.