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Using “Well” as an Adjective | Grammar

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Advanced Level

If you have ever replied to “How are you?” with “I’m well,” someone may have corrected your grammar. “You should use an adjective after the verb to be, so you should say ‘good’ instead,” they told you. Is that true?

“Good” and “Well” as Adjectives and Adverbs

We learn that good is an adjective; the irregular adverb form for it is well. So, you would say,

  • I’m not very good at math. (adjective)
  • I don’t understand math very well. (adverb)

The idea then is that if someone asks you how you are, you should say “I’m good” (adjective) but “I’m doing well” (adverb).

What’s the Problem?

The problem is that well can also be an adverb meaning “in good health; sound of body and mind” or “in good order.” Consequently, if you say either “I’m good” or “I’m well,” you are not breaking any grammar rules. Both are used as adjectives and have slightly different meanings.

For a more in depth explanation and examples, watch the video below.

Video Activity

Watch Should you say I'm good or I'm well on YouTube for further informaiton and examples on this topic.

Practice

Based on this lesson and the video, complete the blanks in the sentences below with good or well.

When you are finished, click “Answer.”

Note. Your answers will not be submitted. When you leave this page, they will be deleted.

1. Although I practiced a lot, I never learned how to play the guitar very .

well

2. I must be getting sick. I don’t feel .

The adjective well is the better option because it expresses a physical condition (sound or body and mind); however, you could also argue that good is also correct.

3. Professor Ecks is usually a instructor, but the way she explained this procedure was not very . I still do not understand very how I am supposed to proceed.

Professor Ecks is usualy a good instructor, but the way she explained this procedure was not very good. I still do not understand very well how I am supposed to do proceed.

4. My friend has some mental health issues. Sometimes he is just not a person.

... Sometimes he is just not a well person.

Note. “Well” is used as an adjective here, meaning “sound of mind.”

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