One of the most common blunders that even (and maybe especially) native English speakers make is confusing the adjective good with the adverb well.
Although both words carry positive connotations, in most cases they cannot be used interchangeably.
Learn the difference so that you can finally give a proper answer the next time someone asks “How are you doing?”
Good vs. Well
The primary difference between good and well is that good usually modifies nouns, whereas well tends to modify actions. Therefore, we can say that in most cases, good is an adjective and well is an adverb.
There is an exception to this general rule, which applies to health and well-being. You can find more on that below.
Are You “Doing Good” or “Doing Well”?
While it is extremely common to answer the question “How are you doing?” with “I’m doing good,” it’s technically incorrect.
If you want to describe how you are doing, your response should include an adverb. Good is an adjective, not an adverb. It can be used to describe what you’re like as a person, but not how you’re doing.
See the examples below for the incorrect and correct responses to the question “How are you doing?”
Incorrect: I’m doing good, thank you.
Correct: I’m doing well, thank you.
Examples of When to Use Good
Since good is an adjective, it can be used to describe things like a plate of pasta, the prices at a certain store, or the quality of a professor’s teaching.
See the following examples of when you should use good:
- This spaghetti is so good! I could eat 2 more plates!
- The prices there are really good, everything is very affordable.
- Professor Schwarten is such a good teacher.
- Do you think this milk is still good, or should I throw it out?
- The weather is not good today; we should reschedule.
Examples of When to Use Well
Since well is an adverb, it can be used to describe actions, like how someone plays tennis, drives, or even sees.
However, one of the most common mistakes made by English speakers is the use of good when really well is needed. See the example below.
Incorrect: He plays tennis really good.
Correct: He plays tennis really well.
Incorrect: I can’t see very good.
Correct: I can’t see very well.
Below are more examples of when you should use well:
- He drives very well.
- I can’t see well without my glasses.
- She speaks Italian well.
- I’ve been doing well in my economics class.
- Things are going well back home.
The Exception: Health and Well-Being
Well can be used as an adjective when you are describe someone’s health or state of well-being.
My mom asked about your cough, and I told her you are well now.
More examples of well as an adjective:
- She has not been well for years.
- Are you well? Do you need to go to the doctor?
- He battled cancer for years, but fortunately he is well now.
The Difference Between Good and Well
By learning the difference between good and well, you’ll be able to avoid one of the most common grammar mistakes in the English language so you can write well—and that’s good!
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