Good or well? question


Hey! I was wondering...... when someone says "how are you?" should you say "I am good" or "I am well?"

Thanks soo much in advance!!! I am so excited I can finally have this question answered!!!

goodorwell asked Jul 04 '13 at 16:33 Rose New member

4 answers


If it's your physician enquiring,  the  response could  be "I am well".  Otherwise, in Britain,  it should be simply "How are you?".   But that is a matter of etiquette, not grammar, and one hears very often "Well, thankyou....and you?"  But never, except just possibly in a confessional booth, "I am good."

link comment answered Jul 04 '13 at 16:44 Michael Cranfield Expert

You need an adverb in the sentence that is well. Avoid the adjective good.

link comment answered Jul 04 '13 at 16:46 Rahul Gupta Expert

Well is an adverb. Period. I am good.

link comment answered Nov 02 at 04:44 Tony Stevens New member

This is a regional issue.  American English would use 'good' whereas British English would use 'well'.  Strictly spoken, we should use an adjective [good] and not an adverb [well] because we have a subject complement [because of the linking verb 'am'].  This means that with the linking verb and the complement that follows, you are modifing the meaning of I and not of am.  This, in turn, means that you need the adjective GOOD and not the ADVERB well.


Anyway, so much for the grammar.  It remains a regioanal issue, and, if we are to believe the Cambridge Grammar of English [534b], the American form is gaining ground.

link answered Jul 05 '13 at 04:15 Ahmad Barnard Expert

In my dictionaries, "well' is an adjective. It is also used as an adverb.

Michael CranfieldJul 05 '13 at 10:40

It's gaining ground. How nice. Just like "I is" and the the pronunciation of aitch as haitch.

Michael CranfieldJul 05 '13 at 22:21

Michael - here is a sentence for you: You sang well.

Would you care to explain how 'well' in this example is an adjective? By the way, which dictionary are you using? If yours seriously suggests that 'well' is an adjective, I suggest that you explore your options. In addition, you may not particularly like the fact that it has been pointed out in the Cambridge Grammar of English that the American form is 'gaining ground', but that's neither here not there, is it? At least it's an observation by a highly credible source [and referenced in my text]. Do you have a similarly highly credible source to suggest an alternative?

Finally, I would personally be very interested in your response to my argument above about using 'good' as a subject complement in 'I am good' vs using an adverb to modify the verb in 'I am well'. I have pointed out the regional differences, and I have argued the purely grammatical case. I rested with regional usage. Would you like to offer a counter-argument?

Ahmad BarnardJul 07 '13 at 11:20

Michael - So you would say the following, right? "This is a well book." And: "Well night, everyone." And: "She had a well life." Right? Exactly which dictionary do you use?

Ahmad BarnardJul 19 '13 at 16:42


Just want to clarify.................... you are saying that in our laungage (not British) I should answer I am good? That seems to make sense, because you can also say I am great/sad/happy/tired, ext. and those are all adjectives. It would make sense to use another adj. (good) to answer that. Is that correct?

RoseJul 19 '13 at 20:05

Yes, that was exactly my argument for a grammatically-correct answer. However, I also pointed out that the spoken alternative using 'well' is gaining ground, evidently. I prefer 'good' because of the linking verb 'am' - this means that we have a predicate that follows, so we don't use an adverb to modify 'am'.

Ahmad BarnardJul 22 '13 at 07:40

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