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Getting Smarter through Language

Should you say “I’m well” or “I’m good?”

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When someone asks, “How are you?” do you ever pause and wonder whether you should say “I'm well” or “I’m good?”

Even though you may know you just need to choose between the adjective (good) or adverb (well) form, the word “well” hides a little secret that causes confusion.

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Watch Should you say I’m good or I’m well for further information on this topic.

”Well”—an Adjective and an Adverb

The confusion comes from the overlap between “well” as an adjective for “good” and as an adjective in its own right. As an adjective, “well” means “in good health” or “sound of body and mind.”

That is why saying, “John’s not a well man,” is a perfectly well built sentence, albeit sad for John.


Two adjectives: good and well

Adjective: Good

Meaning: satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree; morally satisfactory.

comparative: better

superlative: best

adverb: well

Adjective: Well

Meaning: in good health; sound of body and mind.

comparative: better

superlative: best

adverb: well

Note. When you say, “Get well soon,” you are wishing someone to get healthy; you are not wishing a bad person to become a “good” person.