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What is the difference between good and well?


This is a question that English learners & Native speakers of British English and American English get incorrect in spoken English all the time.

Basically, ‘well’ should be an adverb and ‘good’ should be an adjective. The parts of speech are used differently. Let’s keep reading to understand better.

Have you ever heard this before?

1. I am doing good.

2. He plays guitar so good.

Well, they are both wrong!!! Why?

Answer: Because ‘good’ is an adjective that should be used to describe nouns. ‘Well’ is an adverb that should be used to modify verbs.

So, really we should say “I am doing well and I play guitar well”.

Can I see more examples and explanations?

You made a good painting. (‘good’ is an adjective that describes the painting)

You paint well. (‘well’ describes HOW you paint)

Are there more grammar rules I should know about ‘good and well’?


Rule 1:

With the following words: look, smell, taste and feel, we must decide if these words are used actively or not. If the words are used actively, then we use ‘well’ and not ‘good’. If these words are being used as adjectives to describe nouns, then we use ‘good’.

For example:

1. The food smells good today.
Good describes the food, not the way that you use your nose.

2. You smell well considering you are sick and not breathing normally.
Here you are actively smelling with your nose, so use the adverb ‘well’.

3. He looks good considering he is 65 years old.
He is not actively looking with his eyes, so we use ‘good’ to describe his looks / appearance.

good vs well 2

Rule 2:

Any time we are talking about health, we use ‘well’.

For example:

1. Do you feel well?

2. He does not look so well.

Rule 3:

We use good anytime we talk about someone’s emotional state.

For example:

1. She does not feel good about her IELTS score.

2. He feels good about learning English online.

Grammar Quiz:
1. He ran very good/well for his weight.
2. We had a good/well meeting last night.
3. Because of a broken leg, I am sure he will not feel good/well enough to play golf next week.
4. Red shirts look good / well on most people.

Please feel free to write below in our comment box  a question, comment or a response for our teacher to check for you.

Last thoughts:

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By: Luke 

ETO American English teacher

2 responses on "What is the difference between good and well?"

  1. I wasn’t aware of the proper usage of those words until I read this article. Thank you for posting it.

  2. Very informative article.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.

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