Good or Well? | Word Choice
  • 3-minute read
  • 27th September 2023

Good or Well? | Word Choice

Is Superman doing good? Or is he doing well? The answer: it depends on what you mean.

While good and well are both words used to convey positive associations or characteristics, they’re not interchangeable and are used in different contexts. In this post, we’ll cover whether to use good or well in your writing and demonstrate with examples.

When to Use “Good”

Good is primarily used as an adjective to describe a noun in a positive way. It has many slightly different meanings, depending on the context of the sentence. For example, it can mean:

●  Sufficient (I have a good idea of what’s expected from my job.)

●  High-quality (This new book is really good.)

●  Beneficial (Eating carrots is good for your eyes.)

●  Decent or virtuous (She considers herself a good person who helps others.)

●  Capable or skillful (My mom is a good driver and never gets parking tickets.)

●  Pleasant (Your perfume smells good.)

Good is highly versatile and one of the most common adjectives in the English language. If you find yourself overusing good in your writing, consider one of its many synonyms for variation, such as the ones in our example above.

When to Use “Well”

The word well is primarily an adverb used to modify verbs. Like good, it relates to positive associations or indicates an acceptable quality. Synonyms include:

●  Adequately (The project is going well.)

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●  Satisfactorily (I did well on my math test.)

●  Effectively (That method worked well and solved the issue.)

●  Competently (She is performing well in her job.)

●  Skillfully (The ballerina danced well at the recital.)

Well can also be used to form compound adjectives. For example:

The manuscript is a well-written piece that received great reviews.

The teacher’s well-established curriculum was a university favorite.

She’s a well-spoken leader in the community.

 Summary: Good or Well?

To summarize, use good as an adjective to modify nouns and well as an adverb to modify verbs:

She performed good on her final exam.
She performed well on her final exam.
The movie I saw last night was really well.
The movie I saw last night was really good.

Well can also be used to form compound adjectives (e.g., well-known, well-suited).

An important distinction is when well is being used as an adjective to describe good health or success. (E.g., I’m doing well after recovering from a cold. Or I’m doing well after investing in the stock market.) While doing well refers to health or prosperity, doing good refers to philanthropic actions, such as volunteering or fundraising. (E.g., She does good for the community by crocheting scarves to donate to hospital patients.)

So, Superman is doing well if he’s having a great day, and he’s doing good if he’s saving the day!

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