Good or Well?

Our most common search themes:

What is the difference between good and well?

This page is about whether to write "I am good" or "I am well". It is about the use of good and well as adjectives.

The sentences "I am good" and "I am well" are both grammatically sound. Good and well can both be used as adjectives. For example:
  • I am good.
  • (This means "I am of a fair or high standard.")
  • I am well.
  • (This means "I am in good health.")


The adjective good means of a fair or high standard.

  • I am good.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. (Will Rogers)


The adjective well means in good health.

  • I am well.
  • If you feel well and happy, your face will reflect this, but if you are having a miserable time, your face will soon show it. (Joan Collins)

Should I say "I am good" or "I am well"?

Both are correct. In these sentences, good and well are both adjectives.

Confusion arises because many people believe an adverb must follow I am, and they know that well is the adverb of good.

In the sentences "I am good" and "I am well", the verb is am. This is a linking verb, and a linking verb is typically followed by an adjective or noun (called the subject complement). For example:
  • I am flamboyant.
  • (Here, flamboyant is an adjective.)
  • I am a man.
  • (Here, man is a noun.)
Read more about linking verbs.

Be Careful When Following a Linking Verb with an Adverb

The question of whether to use an adverb or an adjective also arises with other linking verbs, particularly to smell, to look, and to taste. For example:
  • The dog smells bad.
  • (Here, the adjective bad describes the smell of the dog.
  • The dog smells badly.
  • (Here, the adverb badly describes the dog's ability to smell; i.e., it tells us the dog does not have a good sense of smell.)
Here are some examples of adverbs being used incorrectly after linking verbs:
  • The dinner tastes wonderfully.
  • She looked amazingly.

A Trick to Help with Good and Well

A good way to determine whether you need the adjective good or the adverb well is to use the word quick instead. If you find yourself drawn to quickly, then you need well (as both are adverbs). However, if you find yourself drawn to quick, then you need good (as both are adjectives).

More Free Help...

All the lessons and tests on Grammar Monster are free. Here's some more free help:

Follow Us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Facebook
by Craig Shrives Follow us on Google+
mail tip Sign up for our daily tip emails
Chat about grammar Ask a grammar question
Search Search this site

Buy Some Help...

Too busy to read everything on Grammar Monster? Here are the paid services we recommend to learn grammar and to keep your writing error free:

Paste your text into Grammarly's online interface for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Press F2 while using Word, PowerPoint, etc., for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Send your text to a trained editor and grammar geek for checking. (Free trial available)

Learn English (or another language) with a state-of-the-art program. (Free trial available)

Buy Our Book...

Buy "Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision" by Craig Shrives (founder of Grammar Monster).

More info...