Good or well?
Good vs Well
Let’s do a quick test, which would you choose?
My life is going good at the moment!
My life is going well at the moment!
Hopefully, you picked the second option! That is the correct choice.
Don’t worry if you were confused or indeed if you picked the first option, this mistake is surprisingly common in modern English, particularly when speaking.
Native speakers do this all the time. It is easy to pick up bad habits from mass media and even friends from native English speaking countries.
Language is fluid and it is changing every day. Sometimes even when we make mistakes, they become part of normal speech. This must be respected and of course noted. You don’t want to sound like you are quoting a grammar book when you speak.
The confusion with these words often comes when answering the question“How are you?” or “How are you doing?”. It is very common, particularly with American English speakers, to say “I’m good!” or “I’m doing good!” when they technically should be saying “I’m well!”.
In this case, it has become almost an accepted norm to misuse this phrase. This form is part of the accepted lexicon and you will not be criticised or laughed at for saying “I’m good”. In fact, most people will not even notice that you made the mistake in the first place.
That being said, it is very important to know the correct usage of both of these words. When you are writing, you will be expected to use the words correctly. Failure to do so will result in lost marks on an exam or perhaps a lesser perception of your language skills.
Study these closely and don’t fall into the trap of confusing them. It’s an easy mistake to make!
Good is an adjective and should be used when describing nouns. Of course, good is used to describe a positive situation and is the opposite of bad. You could use it in a variety of ways.
Here are some examples:
I hope you have a good trip!
It is a good day for a walk.
You are a good person for doing that.
Well is an adverb and should be used when describing verbs. Well can be used in a variety of ways including praise for someone who has done a good job or to describe how you are feeling.
Here are some examples:
I don’t feel well today.
It won’t cook well in the oven.
You painted the house really well!
The key facts to remember:
Good is an adjective and it is used to describe nouns.
Well is an adverb and it is used to describe verbs.
So, in theory, all you have to do is check the word that you are trying to describe. Consider whether this word is a verb or a noun and then choose accordingly.
Once again, it is not a crime to speak colloquially and say “I’m good!” when someone asks how you are doing. You don’t need to go around correcting native speakers and telling them how to speak. As long as you know the differences and make the correct choice in a setting that requires it, you’ll be fine.
Always write the correct form, there is no room for colloquialisms in formal writing.
As I tell all of my students, practice often and create the habit in your mind. This is the way that you will improve your English and indeed any language that you want to learn!