Professional Style

Good vs. Well

July 2017
Spot the Error

Wow, Trevor, you somersault good!

With only five words in the sentence above, you have a 20 percent chance of correctly identifying the error. (Never hurts to throw in a little math with the grammar.) With any luck, you identified good as being incorrect.

Good is an adjective; adjectives modify nouns. It would never modify an action, such as somersaulting. For that, we need well.

  • Wow, Trevor, you somersault well! (verb and adverb)
  • Wow, Trevor, that was a good somersault! (adjective and noun)

Now for the confusing part.

“How are you today?”

How do you respond to that? Do you say, “I am well” or “I am good”?

Actually, you could say either, depending on your message. If you want to convey that you are healthy, say “I am well.” If you want to convey that all is right with the world, say “I am good.”

In most instances, when using sensory verbs (such as feel, taste, and smell) or linking verbs (such as be, appear, and seem), you’ll want to use good.

  • Dinner smells good.
  • She looks good in her new dress.
  • Relations appear good between them.

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