Learn the difference between GOOD and WELL

vocabulary Sep 04, 2021
The difference between using good and well in English

In English, good and well have similar meanings, but they are used differently. Even native English speakers get these words wrong sometimes. In this English lesson, I’m going to show you the difference between good and well and you’ll learn how they are used in an English conversation.

Good is an adjective, and this means that it describes a noun. To find an adjective in a sentence, ask the question “What kind of…[noun]?” and the answer will be the adjective. 

  • The pizza in this shop is so good. It is really good  (What kind of pizza? Good pizza.)
  • They use good  (What kind of ingredients? Good ingredients.)
  • I think Bon Jovi is a good  (What kind of a singer is he? He’s a good singer.)

Well, on the other hand, is an adverb. An adverb is a word that describes a verb or an adjective. To find an adverb in a sentence, ask the question “How do you know…[verb]? and the answer will be the adverb. 

  • I know pizza well. (How do you know pizza? I know it well.)
  • He sings very well. (How does he sing? He sings well.)
  • The pizza is made well (How is the pizza made? It is made well.)

These are the basic ways to use good and well. Now, let’s look at a few special situations.

When we are talking about a person’s health or condition, we use well:

  • Jack’s grandfather is doing well after his surgery.
  • Bob is not feeling well 
  • Pink isn’t well, he stayed back at the hotel (from Pink Floyd The Wall)

When we describe how something feels, smells or tastes, we use good:

  • The leather seats in the car feel so good.
  • The pizza tastes good.
  • These roses smell so good.

Next, when we want to talk about how something looks, we can use good.

  • Your new hairstyle looks good!
  • I love how you reformed your garden. It looks good.

Compare the following and note the difference. When we talk about how a person looks, we can use good or well, but the meaning is different so be careful!

  • Mary looks good This means she looks attractive, pretty, etc.
  • Mary looks well This means she looks healthy. Perhaps she was ill yesterday.

Finally, in American English, using good to describe how you feel has become common, especially in informal, casual conversation:

  • Tom: Kim, how are you doing today?
  • Kim: I’m good, how about you, Tom?
  • Tom: I’m good too!

I hope I did a good job of explaining the difference between good and well. I think you’ll know this English point well!

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