Good vs. Well

Everyone in our industry knows a good well when he or she sees one. However, sometimes these same people use the word “good” instead of “well” when the latter should be used as the preferred adverb.

“Good” is an adjective that describes a noun, as in our “good well” example.
That tastes good.
I feel good, Na na Na na Na na Na.
I knew that I would, Na na Na na Na na Na.
(with apologies to James Brown – Yeow!)

“Well” is usually an adverb that modifies a verb. It means “in a satisfactory manner.”
I’m doing very well, thank you.
Here, “well” describes how you are “doing” (verb).

According to Webster’s Ninth Dictionary, “Good as an adverb occurs chiefly in speech and is considered by some to be less than standard; it is seldom found in edited prose except in representations of speech.”

Bad Examples: She sings good. He did good on his exam.
Corrected Examples: She sings well. He did well on his exam.

If you say “You look good,” it means you appear attractive.
If you say “You look well,” it means you appear healthy.
That’s because “well” can also be an adjective meaning “in good health” or “not sick.”

Another one of the many vagaries of the English language.

Profound Quote of the Day:

“Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”
– Charlotte Whitton


One Response to “Good vs. Well”

  1. More vs. Better « Technical Writing Tips for the Oil Patch Says:

    […] (For a quick refresher on Good vs. Well, visit: […]

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