Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good and Well


Good and well are often used incorrectly. The key is to remember that good is an adjective and well is an adverb.


Old Blue is a good dog. (Good is an adjective describing dog.)
You've trained Old Blue well. (Well is an adverb describing trained.)
This is a good salad. (Good is an adjective describing salad.)
I can't taste the salad well because I have a cold. (Well is an adverb describing taste.)
You did a good job. (Good describes job.)
You did the job well. (Well answers how you did the job).

When referring to health, use well rather than good.

Example: I do not feel well. (You do not feel well today.)

Which is correct?

I'm over my cold and I feel well.
I'm over my cold and I feel good.

Both are correct. It is okay to use well as an adjective when you're talking about health.

Note: You can use good with feel when you are not referring to health.

Example: I feel good about my decision to learn Spanish.

With Linking Verbs and Action Verbs

Use adjectives (good) with linking verbs and adverbs (well) with action verbs.


You smell good; that's a nice perfume. (Smell is a linking verb.)
Now that you took your cold medicine, you should be able to smell well. (Smell is an action verb.)
You look good. (Look is a linking verb.)
Look at this picture well. (Look is an action verb.)

Good job!
Job well done!



Sources: Blue Book of Grammar, Painless Grammar


  1. Crystal - Thanks for this review. It's always really helpful to have a good review of things that can help us to write well ;-).

  2. I always enjoy your post. I need these reminders from time to time. Thanks.

    Thoughts in Progress

  3. It is funny I woke up to find this because as I was laying in bed last night I was thinking about these two words. Great explanation.

  4. Margot: Excellent! The goal and purpose of my blog is just that; to inform or remind writers and authors of grammatical issues that will *hopefully* be useful and informative, as well as fun, (as would be the case with the Challenges and Weird Words).

    Diane: These are two of the most commonly misused words. You're not alone!

    Mason: What an encouraging compliment! Thank you!

    Alyssa: LOL - I was going to say that only a writer would think of WORDS while laying in bed, but I do too!

  5. I was going to say that mostly I use these two words the right way and when I have a question, I rewrite so that I say it in a different way. Then I got to the point about linking verbs. Ah ha! That's when I have the problem. Now ... if you'll just do a post on how to identify linking verbs from action verbs, I'll be all set - LOL.

  6. Great reminders here, Crystal! I have a little bit of an advantage on this one (my dad's an English teacher and this was pounded into us!)

  7. Awww Garfield!! :-)

    Thanks for this fun tutorial!

    Take care

  8. Great tutorial. Made me think of that old phrase used a lot in the South, "That's all well & good, but...".

  9. Ha! This is one of those things I use correctly about 80% of the time, but I didn't really know the REASONS--this totally helps!

  10. Carol, Elizabeth, Old Kitty, CC, Alex and Hart: It's very rewarding to hear that these posts are helpful.

    Due to editing deadlines, some weeks it's just not possible for me to "do the rounds" with regard to commenting, and for that I apologize. Nonetheless you all continue to make CCP one of your stops on Wednesdays, and I truly appreciate it.

    Thank you all for being such loyal followers. ♥

  11. I will brag a little that I'm very GOOD at using these terms correctly. My husband always looks at me when he says one or the other, concerned that he's not chosen the right one! But this post is so clearly written that I will have to pass it on. Thank you, Crystal!


  12. Crystal - Me again :-) Just wanted you to know there is an award for you on my blog.


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