Good vs well
Good is an adjective, meaning it modifies people, places, and things. You can eat good food and read good books. Well is an adverb, so it modifies action verbs. Action verbs are those that describe actions, such as cooking or writing. You can sing well or, if you are good at eating food, eat food well.
There is another group of verbs called linking verbs. These do not describe actions, but connect other words together. The most common linking verb is to be. This group also includes words such as to seem, to look, or those describing senses such as to feel or to smell.
Some verbs can be both action verbs and linking verbs. If you can replace a verb with a form of to be, it’s probably a linking verb:
- She smells nice. → She is nice. (Still works, making “smells” a linking verb.)
- She smells flowers. → She is flowers. (Does not work, making “smells” an action verb.)
We use adjectives after linking verbs. They refer to the noun before the verb, making them predicate adjectives. Good is such a predicate adjective. Well can be both an adverb and a predicate adjective.
- Joe ran well. (Well is an adverb describing Joe’s action of running.)
- Joe is well. (Well is a predicate adjective, describing how Joe is.)
Because both good and well are predicate adjectives, it is fine to reply “I am good” or “I am well” when someone asks you how you are doing.
Good can also be a noun, such as in “consumer goods” or “the greater good”. When someone asks you what you are doing, you can still say “I am doing good”. This makes good a noun, meaning that you are doing “good deeds”. Never let grammar nitpickers tell you you aren’t!
All lessons in this course
Two words can look like translations of each other even if they aren’t. The word “actual” is our first venture into this category of false friends.
Even if you translate each individual word in a sentence correctly, the resulting translation can still be off.
Not every word in a sentence needs to appear in its translation. Languages don’t map to each other one-to-one.
You can spot Germans by the fact that they use “or” to ask questions. Unfortunately, the word doesn’t work that way in English.
This mistranslation gave this course its name. “Together” refers to doing something with others. Here’s how to greet a group of people instead.
What do you call a phone you can hold in your hand? Well, it’s not this. If you call it a handy, you’re in for some awkward looks.
“Bekommen” and “to become” are another pair of false friends. If you want something, make sure you’re not accidentally turning yourself into that thing.
Is it “less mistakes” or “fewer mistakes”? They both seem to say that something is not as much as it was before, but only one is grammatically correct.
False friends are everywhere. Eventually is very similar to the German “eventuell”, but it means something completely different.
Why isn’t it “Whom let the dogs out”? The extra letter does not turn a regular “who” into a fancy version of itself.
When coming from a language that doesn’t normally use them, where to put apostrophes can seem confusing.
Was an event organized by “Nina and I” or “Nina and me”? To find which one applies, take the other person out of the sentence for a second.
Good vs well
You’re doing well, Superman is doing good. This lesson looks at the rules behind which of these two is correct in a given situation.
When you’re excited about something, tell others what that thing is. On its own, you’re only saying half an expression otherwise.
When you don’t know someone’s preferred pronouns, you can use they/them even when speaking about an individual person and not a group.
We have been taught to always say please and thank you. Whether they are right for a situation depends on the context.
Some actions happen to multiple people at once, like running into someone. In these situations, we need to use reciprocal pronouns.
Other languages don’t always use the auxillary “do” as much as the English language does, so it’s often lost in translation.