Grammar-licious: Making Grammar Fun - December
Good/well confuses the best of us, even though the word choice is about usage. All we need to know is that good is an adjective and well is an adverb. There, that was simple. We just plug in ‘good’ when we need an adjective (to describe a noun or pronoun) and ‘well’ when in need of an adverb (to describe a verb). Easy, right? No? How about some examples?
Spot is a good dog. (adjective describing subject ‘dog’)
Break down the sentence: Spot is a dog. What kind of dog? (adjective) dog.
She trained Spot well. (adverb describing the verb ‘trained’)
Break down the sentence: She trained Spot. How (adverb) did she train him?
This is a good sandwich. (adjective describing subject ‘sandwich’)
Break down the sentence: This is a sandwich. What kind of sandwich? (adjective) sandwich.
I can’t taste the sandwich well because I have a cold. (adverb describing verb ‘taste’)
Break down the sentence: I can taste the sandwich. How (adverb) can I taste the sandwich?
[less confusing to make it into a positive statement]
If it’s still confusing, try substituting “healthy” or “in a good manner” and if either fits, then so will “well.”
Follow these examples.
The coffee tasted well/good this morning.
The word supports the subject, ‘the coffee’s taste’, therefore, an adjective.
Correct: The coffee tasted good this morning.
(Maybe the coffee can taste ‘healthy’, but that isn’t what is meant.)
The batter is looking well/good.
The word supports the subject ‘batter’, therefore, an adjective.
Correct: The batter is looking good.
(Sure the better can look ‘healthy’, but that isn’t what is meant.)
She skates well/good.
The word supports the verb ‘skates’, therefore, an adverb;“in a good manner” also works.
Correct: She skates well.
I don’t feel very good/well.
The word supports the verb ‘feel’, therefore, an adverb; “healthy” also works.
I don’t feel very well.
He did a good/well job.
The word supports the noun ‘job’, therefore, an adjective.
He did a good job.
She did the job good/well.
The word supports the verb ‘did’, therefore, an adverb; “in a good manner” also works.
She did the job well.
This month’s recommended grammar book is: English Grammar for Dummies by Geraldine Woods.
I like finding ways to remember the ‘rules’ and hope you can find something helpful. It’s my hope the monthly grammar techniques and usage examples will make grammar a lot less frightening and potentially enjoyable (can you imagine?) for you.
If you have grammar topics you’d like to see covered, please leave a comment or contact me!
(originally published in TWC Spotlight for September, 2008)