ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Grammar Mishaps: Good vs. Well

Updated on July 25, 2013

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."

Examples

  1. That is a good song. (Good is modifying the noun, song.)
  2. You sang the song very well. (Well is modifying the verb, sang.)
  3. The bike is pedaling well. (Well is modifying the verb, pedaling.
  4. The car is in good shape. (Good is modifying the noun, car.)

Exceptions

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.

Any thoughts, comments or questions?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      reemo 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for your valuable information , but can you tell me please what is the difference between be good at and do well as

    • profile image

      Kristina 

      6 years ago

      Should I tell someone to "do good at your game" or "do well at your game"?

    • profile image

      Patricia 

      6 years ago

      What are the rules for doing well vs. Going well.

    • profile image

      JonnyRichta 

      6 years ago

      2 things:

      First off, the part about how a cake smells has an implication: "The cake smells [like it is] good." 'good' being appropriate because 'is' is a 'to be' verb, which is what adjectives are use for. E.g.: "The good man is good".

      Also, the last part where you distinguish the difference by saying:

      "How are you?"

      "I am well"

      Whereas 'well' is appropriate here, 'good' works also because the question addresses a state of being. However, if I asked, "how are you DOING?" you would say, "I am doing well."

      Because as we know, Superman does good, you do well.

      Hope that helps!

    • profile image

      Tom 

      7 years ago

      Isn't it also the case that "well" is a state of being, so a cake can't be well because it does not have varying states of being.

    • profile image

      hannah 

      7 years ago

      "The car is in good shape"

      Wrong. It modifies shape.

    • profile image

      Dogger 

      7 years ago

      i like this english website thang keep me on my tows

    • profile image

      Steve 

      8 years ago

      Someone once told me in the military a junior would respond with very well to a senior and the senior would respond with very good to a junior.

    • profile image

      Karen 

      8 years ago

      Which of these is correct:

      I slept well.

      I slept good.

    • profile image

      iteach3rs 

      8 years ago

      On a recent field trip, I asked one of my students how they were doing- to which they replied, "I'm good". I proceeded to correct them (gently) and reminded them that "I am well" is proper grammar. About this time, my principal (who was along on the trip) proceeded to give me a mini lesson about how "am" is a linking verb and therefore it wouldn't be proper grammar unless you said, "I am doing well". While I agree that "I am doing well" is acceptable, my question to you is was I incorrect in saying "I am well"? Thanks for the clarification! :)

    • profile image

      ann is dumb 

      8 years ago

      we'll means we will. you would not start a sentence with "we will, if you asked me yesterday i would have said..." you start it with "well, if you asked me yesterday..."

    • profile image

      Flingwing 

      8 years ago

      Your explanation is incorrect:

      "The car is in good shape. (Good is modifying the noun, car)".

      "Good is modifying the noun "shape". Shape here is a synonym for "condition". Condition is the name of an attribute. So good should modify that noun, shape.

      No charge :-)

    • profile image

      david 

      8 years ago

      referring to my wrestling performance "...I might as well do good." or "...I might as well do well"?

    • profile image

      Tim 

      9 years ago

      I reckon I should have said "was both 'good' and 'deserved,'" rather than "were both 'good' and 'deserved,'" since the trip was in the past. But I'm sure that's covered in a different topic. "If I were you, I'd..." is okay. "If I was late for the meeting last week..." is correct, too. Okay, I'll go home now.

    • profile image

      Tim Cherepko 

      9 years ago

      Jim, http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000127.htm should help. It should be well-deserved. "Well-deserved" is describing the trip. If the trip were both "good" and "deserved," you could say that he took a good, deserved trip.

    • profile image

      Jim 

      9 years ago

      He is acting well but he is being good. What's the difference?

      "He took a well deserved trip." Doesn't well describe trip? Shouldn't this be "a good deserved trip?"

    • profile image

      Ann 

      9 years ago

      I want to know in dialogue when you start a sentence with 'well' as in "Well, if you asked me that yesterday I would have said..." Is that Well or We'll?

    • profile image

      antiGabe 

      9 years ago

      Gabe,

      You prove that "I am good" is a grammatically complete sentence, but you do not prove its application. As stated before, "I am good" is a legitimate sentence, but it isn't "hyper-correction" to change to well.

      "I am evil," said Steve.

      "Oh really? I am good," said Luke.

      "I am a bit under the weather this morning," said Steve.

      "That's unfortunate. I am well,' said Luke.

      Using "well" to describe your state of being is correct. Using "good" to describe your state of being works in general conversation, but is ambiguous. You're not really saying what you mean to when you use "good."

    • profile image

      Michael 

      9 years ago

      You could say that "Somebody did good" if you meant good as in like community service. Someone can do good for the community. I assume in that case good could be a noun. is that correct?

    • profile image

      Brad 

      9 years ago

      See above. I think it's a good argument for "I am good."

    • profile image

      voldemort 

      9 years ago

      hahahahaha. THANK U SO MUCH!!!! i needed this rly bad 4 a skool prjct so u are a life saver!! no joke. now my essays gonna be good and im gonna do well in englich this semester! haha

    • profile image

      Susie 

      9 years ago

      My elementary teacher used to always teach us- "People ARE good and they DO things well".

    • profile image

      Mike 

      9 years ago

      "Look" and "Feel" both have an active and passive meaning. It would be correct to say "I feel well with my hands" (active) or "I feel good, better than yesterday when I was sick" (passive). Likewise you can "look well" when using your eyes (active, though that sounds awkward) but my significant other "looks good" (passive).

      I am under the impression that there are other verbs with the same active/passive distinction, though I cannot think of them. But it is the active/passive distinction that that determines whether the verb is modified with an adjective (passive) or an adverb (active).

      The verb "am" is less clear to me if it is active or passive; both "I am well" or "I am good" sound right to me, though I think "I am good" is used more after a question like "Would you like more desert?"

    • profile image

      Rachael 

      9 years ago

      Saying "I get paid WELL." is better than saying "I get paid GOOD." Correct?

    • profile image

      Yza 

      9 years ago

      Very nice explanation.

    • profile image

      Gabe 

      10 years ago

      In the sentence "I am good", [am] is a linking verb; therefore, [good] is thusly a predicate adjective. Just like we say 'the car is red' (not redly)... or 'the emo-boy is sad' (not sadly). Likewise, there's no need to hyper-correct 'good' with 'well'.

      I'm good is perfectly fine, just like the sky is blue, the clouds are white, and pedants are pissed. ;-)

    • profile image

      Adam 

      10 years ago

      Vitali,

      About your concerns; I think that 'we heard it perfectly' is correct because in this instance, perfectly, an adverb, is describing the past-tense verb, heard.

      "How did you hear the music? Perfectly. We heard it perfectly."

      I don't know if that was what you were looking for and I'm only a burgeoning young grammist (see?). I hope that answered your question.

    • profile image

      David  

      10 years ago

      what about the statement "Make sure you brush your teeth well (or good)"

    • profile image

      Vitali 

      10 years ago

      Fantastic site! An exercise I completed on another site had the following two answers as being correct:

      1. The gas smelled dangerous.

      2. We heard it perfectly.

      This suggests to me that to hear is not a verb of appearance; otherwise the adjective perfect would have been appropriate to use.

      Any ideas?

    • profile image

      pati 

      10 years ago

      you did a good job, "good" being an adjective describing job (a noun) but you did well, "well" being an adv. modifying the verb "did"

    • profile image

      Ian 

      10 years ago

      I'm curious about the use of "good" with variations of the word "do". A specific question I have is about the use of the word "good" in the following sentance :

      "How did he do?"

      He did pretty good.

      It sounds a little off, maybe it's just bad grammer. But what about when you add to the sentance:

      He did a good job.

      It wouldn't be "He did a well job". But does the addition of the word "a" change the structure of the sentance?

    • profile image

      Jake 

      10 years ago

      It would be correct to say "I have a good education" because "good" is modifying (or enhancing) the noun "education."

      I am just a wandering stranger, but I figured I would answer that question quick.

      Kudos on this page Jonathon.

    • profile image

      kate 

      10 years ago

      hi nice site

      im horrible at grammer so when i have a Question i will ask it! Would you say "I have a well education.", or, "I have a good education."

    • profile image

      Chris 

      11 years ago

      That is the best response to my question yet! I've been to ten different websites trying to figure out this question of well vs. good. Thank you, Jonathan VS!

    • profile image

      Jonathon VS 

      11 years ago

      Andrea, it depends on what you are trying to describe. If you say, "I feel well," that could mean that you knew how to feel things skillfully. Rather, you would say, "I feel good," because you are describing yourself, not "feel."

      Similarly, if you say, "I am good," it could mean that you are stating that you are not evil, but good. However, if you say, "I am well," you eliminate all ambiguity, because the only way anyone could construe that sentence is that you are healthy and feeling okay (unless they are ungifted in English and think you are stating that you are a well).

      At the end of the day, it's just as much about what makes sense as what is proper grammar. I hope that answers your question.

    • profile image

      Andrea Cianci 

      11 years ago

      How come you can answer "How are you feeling" with"I am feeling good", but cannot answer "How are you?" with "I'm good."????

    • profile image

      still trying to clarify 

      11 years ago

      Since I can only think of one person who would be exceptional in "feeling" I will use this example. If someone asked Helen Keller "How are you?" she would reply "I am well" (or, if the opposite was true, "I am sick") If someone asked her, "How do you feel?" she would exercize her nimble fingers, smile, and say "I feel good!" thus explaining how good she is at feeling. Would this be accurate?

    • profile image

      angel 

      11 years ago

      watz popin i be that one and only angel holla back at me

    • profile image

      angel 

      11 years ago

      watz popin i be that one and only angel holla back at me

    • profile image

      angel 

      11 years ago

      watz popin i be that one and only angel holla back at me

    • Robin profile imageAUTHOR

      Robin Edmondson 

      11 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks xmans! I look forward to reading more of your hubs about China!

    • xmans profile image

      xmans 

      11 years ago from Guangzhou

      You baby is so lovely and I am glad to be your friends

    • Robin profile imageAUTHOR

      Robin Edmondson 

      11 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, Urban Aspirations. I like that Hubpages has a lot of different sides too, not just rants. I look forward to hearing more about your non-profit!

    • profile image

      Urban Aspirations 

      11 years ago

      Enter a comment This is my first time so be gentle with me. I like the fact I can go on line and get lessons in gramar. I find this hub kind of refreshing compared to all the ranting and raging I ussually read on blogs. I just became a member and I am a fan of yours already. Keepm up the excellent work. My hub will more than likely contain info about my new upstart non profit organization "Urban Aspirations" and Ill probably be shamelessly begging for money or support or more money, I'll try to keep it tastefull and non intrussive fun even.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      11 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks. That elucidates the nice distinction between precipitate and precipitous.

    • Robin profile imageAUTHOR

      Robin Edmondson 

      11 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Ralph. I wasn't sure about that one, so I looked it up. The best answer I found is here: http://www.alphadictionary.com/goodword/word/preci... Glad to see you're back!

      Robin

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      11 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      How about "precipitate" vs. "precipitous"? As in yesterday the stock market dropped "precipitately" or "precipitously?"

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)