I don’t get sick very often, but every once in a while something comes along to kick my butt and force me to slow down a little bit. The latest “cold” has done just that. Being sick opened a whole new topic!
Good and well are misused a lot. Good is an adjective.1
- She did a good job on the project the boss gave her.
Well is usually used as an adverb2 with action verbs, but can be used as an adjective when referring to someone’s health.
It is not proper, however, to say “She ran good” because “ran” is an action verb.
- He said he didn’t feel well when he woke up that morning.
Good can also be used with linking verbs. For instance, in the response to “How are you?” it is perfectly acceptable to answer “I am good” when they are asking about your general status. If you are recovering from a long illness and someone asks how you are, saying “I am well” lets them know that you are healthy.
To feel well means “to be in good health” and to feel good means “to be in good spirits.” Think James Brown. I don’t think his song “I Feel Good” was about being healthy, I think it was about being ready to party.
Once I get completely over this illness, I am hoping to be a healthy person. Healthy means to be in good health and healthful is to promote health (like healthful food).
One more illness-related set of words that are confused a lot are nauseous and nauseated. Nauseous means to induce nausea so a pile of something disgusting in the corner makes you feel nauseous. If your stomach is upset, you feel nauseated.
So I am good, I feel well (at least better anyway), and I do not feel nauseated. Things are looking up!
1 A word that modifies or describes a noun.
2 A word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb and answers one of the questions How? When? Where? and Why?
Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, has been a member of NALS for over 30 years, is the current President of NALS of Phoenix, and is the Vice Chair of the NALS Editorial Board. Kathy has a blog on proofreading tips at http://proofthatblog.com. If you have specific grammar issues you would like covered in future issues, please send them to Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.