MiR 051 Shorts – Good or Well?

Welcome to the Mark in Russia podcast network, episode #51, and I’m your host, Mark. This episode is part of my series of “Shorts” and by this I mean approximately 5 minute long podcasts which are aimed at explaining a Quick Grammar Tip.

You should go to the website, http:www.markinrussia.com and look at the show notes and vocabulary. You’ll get more out of the lesson if you are able to follow it in writing.

Today we’re going to talk about the words, “Good” and “Well” and how they are misused very often in speech.

Let’s look at some examples:

Here is a man speaking to his friend who he just met up with on the street:

“Hi Bill, how are you doing?”

Bill: “I’m doing good!”

Or should Bill say:

“I’m doing well!”

Actually, it is the second choice, “I’m doing well!”

You see, if you answered that you were “doing good”, this would mean that you were doing something good for the sake of society or humanity, or something along those lines.

“Good” is an adjective and also sometimes a noun. It is never an adverb. In the above example an adverb was needed to modify the verb “doing”. An adjective can’t modify a verb.

“Well” can be an adjective or an adverb, although almost always an adverb. Therefore in our example we would use “well” and not “good”.

Good: always an adjective, never an adverb; never modifies a verb but can follow a linking verb and act as a modifier for the subject.

Well: adjective or adverb depending on context. When an action verb is involved, an adverb is needed, and well is always the choice, never good.

There are some exceptions, particularly related to linking verbs, but that’s a discussion for another day, and like anything else grammar related, there are disputes.

The following example illustrates this point:

“I’m feeling good.”

“I’m feeling well.”

Some will say that the meaning of the first example, “I’m feeling good” would imply that you have a good sense of touch, whereas the second example, “I’m feeling well” relates to health. Others will say that because “feeling” acts as a linking verb, either would be OK. Even with the linking verb school of thought, the meanings are slightly different. “I’m feeling good” in this situation would refer to a state of mind, whereas “I’m feeling well” would relate to health.

Anyhow, it is confusing and apparently not cut and dried.

Let’s take a short joke break and when we return I’ll give a couple of confusing examples and the correct usage.


First I’ll tell a “Good News, Bad News” joke.

The doctor says “I have good news and bad news.”

The patient says “tell me the bad news.”

The doctor says “You have cancer”

The patient says “tell me the good news”

The doctor says “you also have alzheimers”

The patient says “okay tell me the bad news”

Here’s another joke:

A bachelor named Steve who lived at home with his mother and pet cat went on a trip to Europe. Before he left, he told his best friend to inform him of any emergencies. A few days after his departure, his cat climbed up on the roof, fell off and was killed. His friend immediately emailed him with the message: “Your cat died!”

A half day later, Steve was back home, having cut his trip short in grief and in anger at his friend. He told his friend, “Why didn’t you break the news to me gradually? You know how close I was to my cat! You could have sent the message ’Your cat climbed up on the roof today,’ and the next day you could’ve written ’Your cat fell off the roof’ and let me down slowly that he died.”

A few days later, the bachelor left again to continue his trip. A few days into his trip, he returns to his hotel and there’s a message waiting for him from his friend.

The message read, “Your mother climbed up on the roof today.”


OK, welcome back and let’s wrap up this quick grammar tip.

We have time for a couple of quick questions:

Anton asks:

When somebody asks “How are you?” should I assume they mean “How are you doing?” or “How are you feeling?”

Well Anton, that is a good question with a simple answer. Because this question is typically answered with a one word answer, it doesn’t matter.

“How are you?”




Bella asks:

“I’m still not sure whether I can apply, “Be good!” or should it be, “Be well!” instead.

Hi Bella,

When saying “Be good,” it’s usually a statement about behavior, not feelings or health. You’re admonishing someone to behave, not instructing them to stay healthy (“be well”). “Be good” is the same as saying, “Don’t be bad.”

I hope that this explanation clears things up for you, Bella.

Thanks for listening through to the end of this episode, come back again next week for a new Mark in Russia Quick Grammar Tip. Until that time, Thanks and Goodbye!

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