sounds good / sounds well

hamlet

Senior Member
Français (FR)
Hello folks! Could you explain to me what the difference between the words well and good is? You often hear, for instance: "sounds good", "I'm doing good" etc Shouldn't it be "well" in these situations?


PS: please feel free to correct any mistakes in this post
 
  • kayokid

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    In general, well is an adverb and good is an adjective and many (if not a majority of) AE speakers misuse the two.
    "I slept well." is correct but everyone says "I slept good."
     

    jdenson

    Senior Member
    USA / English
    hamlet said:
    Hello folks! Could you explain to me what the difference between the words well and good is? You often hear, for instance: "sounds good", "I'm doing good" etc Shouldn't it be "well" in these situations?


    PS: please feel free to correct any mistakes in this post
    Hi Hamlet,
    Well is an adverb and good is an adjective. When a person says, "sounds good", he means "it appears to be good". "I'm doing good" is a very informal (and incorrect) way of saying, "I'm doing well". Expressions like these are common in the spoken language but certainly should be avoided in more formal settings.
    JD
     

    jdenson

    Senior Member
    USA / English
    kayokid said:
    In general, well is an adverb and good is an adjective and many (if not a majority of) AE speakers misuse the two.
    "I slept well." is correct but everyone says "I slept good."
    Not everyone. While it's true that there are millions who couldn't care less about careful speech, there are a lot of people around who will tell you that only an ingnoramus would say, "I slept good".
    JD
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    hamlet said:
    Hello folks! Could you explain to me what the difference between the words well and good is? You often hear, for instance: "sounds good", "I'm doing good" etc Shouldn't it be "well" in these situations?


    PS: please feel free to correct any mistakes in this post

    I'm doing good is possible, if you mean the opposite of I'm doing evil.

    Americans are much more likely to use good when it should be well. I think it is less common in BE.

    Sounds good is correct. Here you are really taking about the resulting sound, which is good.
     

    kayokid

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Hello jdenson.
    I made that statement for effect and didn't mean for it to be taken literally. I quite agree with you.
     

    jdenson

    Senior Member
    USA / English
    kayokid said:
    Hello jdenson.
    I made that statement for effect and didn't mean for it to be taken literally. I quite agree with you.
    Hi Kayokid,
    I understood what you meant. My post (also for effect) was for the non-English speakers who might be confused.
    JD
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    We've got to remember, too, the dinstinction of well and good with the use of linking verbs, including the verb I am. With linking verbs, one uses the adjective, not the adverb, because we are modifying the subject, not the verb.

    I am good. At what, you may ask. (Are you good at volleyball, working crossword puzzles, linguistics?)
    I am well. (My state of health is good).

    I feel good. I - as a person - feel healthy and vibrant.
    I feel well
    . - My ability to feel things is functioning normally. (Note: "I don't feel well," while very popular, is an "over-correction." "I don't feel good" should work just fine.)

    That food tastes good. -I like the taste of that food. It has good flavor.
    That food tastes well. - Unless the food has the ability to taste, this is impossible.

    The dog smells good. - The dog just had a bath. I like his odor.
    The dog smells well. - The dog has a heightened sense of smell, and might make a good hunting dog.

    While it is true that Americans, in particular, interchange well and good more often than they should, it is usually because of a misunderstanding of how the linking verbs work.
     

    french4beth

    Senior Member
    US-English
    If you hear "Sounds good" it's probably a shortened version for "That sounds good to me" - in this case, 'good' is an adjective modifying 'That', so 'good' is correct here.

    By the way, your English is just fine! You done good!* [sic] ;)


    *This is another American idiomatic expression that you could hear in conversation, meaning, 'you've done a good thing'. :)
     

    lmarfell

    Member
    english, england
    "i'm doing good" is not proper english. it is a bastardisation.

    "good" is basically the opposite of "bad", yes? but we would never say "i'm doing bad"/"i'm bad".

    basically, someTHING can be 'good' or 'bad', concerning its implications, but someONE can be 'well' or 'not well'.
     

    lmarfell

    Member
    english, england
    thought i'd just add a post script -
    "i am good" meaning "i am not bad", can obviously be used but only in specific circumstances ie, "you've been really naughty today!" "no! i've been good"

    really, when used to describe a person, its the equivalent of 'sage' in french, i believe, meaning 'well behaved'. (note, well :p)
     

    marget

    Senior Member
    Since we say that somene or something can feel, smell, taste, sound or look good, I suppose we can generalize by saying that verbs of perception take adjectives in these contexts, right?
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    GenJen54 said:
    We've got to remember, too, the dinstinction of well and good with the use of linking verbs, including the verb I am. With linking verbs, one uses the adjective, not the adverb, because we are modifying the subject, not the verb.

    I am good. At what, you may ask. (Are you good at volleyball, working crossword puzzles, linguistics?)
    I am well. (My state of health is good).

    I feel good. I - as a person - feel healthy and vibrant.
    I feel well
    . - My ability to feel things is functioning normally. (Note: "I don't feel well," while very popular, is an "over-correction." "I don't feel good" should work just fine.)

    That food tastes good. -I like the taste of that food. It has good flavor.
    That food tastes well. - Unless the food has the ability to taste, this is impossible.

    The dog smells good. - The dog just had a bath. I like his odor.
    The dog smells well. - The dog has a heightened sense of smell, and might make a good hunting dog.

    While it is true that Americans, in particular, interchange well and good more often than they should, it is usually because of a misunderstanding of how the linking verbs work.

    I agrree with all except the I feel well. In BE at least, well can mean healthy. To say I feel well means I feel healthy. I don't feel well means I don't feel healthy, I am ill, feeling sick, unwell.

    Generally I use good for what something is,and well for how something is done.
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    "Well" is always an adverb describing an action, thus following a verb, unless it means "in a healthy condition," in which case it is an adjective.

    I play soccer well. I play soccer badly.
    I feel well today. I feel ill today.

    "Good" is always an adjective, thus modifying (generally preceding) a noun, unless it the noun form meaning "good deeds" or "goodness."

    The food is good. The food is bad.
    There is a lot of good in the world. There is a lot of evil in the world.



    So basically, if you want to describe an action (an action done "well"), you use "well"; and if you want to describe a person's health, you use "well." If you want to describe a person, place, or thing (which is "good"), you use "good."


    There are other words besides "am" and "is" that act in the very same way and use "good." These are called linking verbs because they link subject and predicate nouns, basically saying that they are equal.

    This food is good means (This) food = good.

    In grade school, we memorized a list of these linking verbs, and these are the most common:

    am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, become, look, taste, smell, feel, sound, and grow.

    Examples:

    This food isgood. (food = good)
    This food tastes good. (food = good)
    This flower smells good. (flower = good)

    Here's an example of how to tell the different between linking verbs and regular verbs:

    The wine grew better over time.

    The wine didn't actually grow in the literal sense, but rather became better. Over time, wine = better.

    The grapes grew better with water.

    The grapes literally grew in a better way with water. Maybe the water cause the grapes to become better, but we cannot say for sure.



    Brian
     

    Lau Lau

    Senior Member
    Español, España
    "i'm doing good" is not proper english. it is a bastardisation.
    :O

    I have said it several times... and I thought it was correct :S

    So, if someone ask you: Hey, how you doing? I am doing good

    That's correct for slang, isn't?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    The simple fact is that good is an adjective, and well is an adverb, in most circumstances. But the simple fact doesn't get you very far here.

    People are increasingly using adjectives as adverbs, and often being derided for it.

    Well can be an adjective too, of course, to mean healthy. I was brought up in a family where if someone asked how you were, and you were fine, you said 'I'm very well, thank you', but now many people say 'I'm good, thank you'. I'm getting used to it, slowly.

    We must have plenty of threads on the subject.
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    < I have added this discussion to a previous thread. Please scroll up and read from the top.
    Cagey, moderator. >


    Greetings,


    In answer to someone's suggestion, we are likely to say: "it sounds good", in which "sound" is used as a linking verb and therefore an adjective is called for afterwards not an adverb. But what about this example?

    A: How is my accent?
    B: You/your accent sound/sounds good/well, in effect, like a native speaker.

    Would you think "sound" is a linking verb in this context too?
    Personally, I think it is not, because it means like "speak", so to say. Don't we need something like an adverb to modify the verb here?


    Thanks
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi G.D

    Her new hairstyle looks nice.
    Your accent sounds good.
    I feel happy.
    The new teacher seems pleasant.


    All linking verbs followed by adjectives:).
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    "It sounds good" is a phrase that is used very frequently in English. I think that "good" functions as a noun in this case. Not sure. :)

    "It sounds well" changes the meaning. "The chimes sound well." :tick:
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks a lot, Loob and RedwoodGrove.

    I underatand why we use "It sounds good" as an answer to something like a suggestion. Because it is equal to: "it sounds to be a good idea". But as to "someone's way of speaking", we are actually talking about the act of producing a sound and its quality. Don't we? That's why I can't get why you still use an adjective not an adverb.

    Thanks
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Please forgive my inexperience. If you want to use "linking verb" then "good" after "sound" would definitely be an adjective. I understand that there are many grammar books out there, but in America they are not all recognized. Many of these grammatical terms are old fashioned.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Thanks a lot, Loob and RedwoodGrove.

    I underatand why we use "It sounds good" as an answer to something like a suggestion. Because it is equal to: "it sounds to be a good idea". But as to "someone's way of speaking", we are actually talking about the act of producing a sound and its quality. Don't we? That's why I can't get why you still use an adjective not an adverb.

    Thanks

    Missed your question. Slow typist. "Sound" can refer to either the way in which a person is using his words or the way in which a thing produces a sound or noise.
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks, RedwoodGrove.

    Could you please elaborate?
    Doesn't "You sound good" mean that the way in which you sound is good. Therefore we need an adverb, i.e "you sound well".

    As far as I know, linking verbs link the word in the predicate to subject, so "you sound good" means "you are good." And this is not what we want.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Thanks, RedwoodGrove.

    Could you please elaborate?
    Doesn't "You sound good" mean that the way in which you sound is good. Therefore we need an adverb, i.e "you sound well".

    As far as I know, linking verbs link the word in the predicate to subject, so "you sound good" means "you are good." And this is not what we want.

    You sound good.

    You sound as if you are in good condition.

    You sound well.

    You sound as if you are well (not sick).

    The piano sounds well.

    The piano has a nice sound.
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks, dear Loob and RedwoodGrove.

    Let me give you another example to put my point across more clearly.

    "Your job sounds really interesting."
    In this sentence, "sound" is used in the sense of "seem". Job is not something that can produce a sound. So I can fully understand why we use an adjective, in this case "interesting" after the verb.
    But with regard to "you sound good." or "your accent sound good." (Both are in answer to the question: "how is my accent?" or "how do I sound?")
    The subjects of both sentences are able to produce a sound. So we need an adverb to modify the verb not the subject.


    Thanks a lot
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    You are asking a lot of questions. So let's deal with this:

    Job is not something that can produce a sound.

    Right! "Your job sounds really interesting." That is something you would say only after the job has already been talked about. You have heard the sound of the words, the sound.
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks a lot for your help, RedwoodGrove.

    Great, so the "job" itself is not capable of producing a sound but "we" or "our accent" are as in your example: Piano sounds well.

    Thanks a lot.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm sorry, G.D and Red: "The piano sounds well" doesn't sound good to me:(.
     

    S.Tan

    Member
    English (British) & Chinese/Hokkien
    Though grammatically they are considered interchangeable in some situations...

    "Sounds good" appears more natural to me...
    "Sounds well"... I have never heard anyone say it, but grammatically it refers to the thing that sounds and the process of sounding rather than how you feel about the sound (also the quality of that sound), which the previous one does.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    But with regard to "you sound good." or "your accent sound good." (Both are in answer to the question: "how is my accent?" or "how do I sound?")
    The subjects of both sentences are able to produce a sound. So we need an adverb to modify the verb not the subject.

    Even if the subject is able to produce a sound, GD, it doesn't necessarily mean that every sentence reflects that ability. In fact, most instances of the verb "sound" refer to reception (what someone hears) rather than to transmission (the action of making a sound). S.Tan touched on this, above.

    Let's take an example with something other than "good":

    - His voice sounded clear, in spite of his sore throat.
    - As Loob explained in #21, "sounded" is a linking verb here, and it relates to what listeners heard. "Clear" is a subject complement: an adjective describing "his voice".

    - His voice sounded clearly throughout the hall.
    - Here, "sounded" relates to the action of producing the sound. "Clearly" is an adverb indicating how that action occurred.

    "You sound good" and "Your accent sounds good" are both examples of the first usage. It's what I hear. "Good" is a subject complement: an adjective describing "you" or "your accent".

    "You sound your vowels well" would be an example of the second usage. It's what you do. "Well" is an adverb indicating how you do it.

    Ws
     

    hamlet

    Senior Member
    Français (FR)
    There might be a distinction to make here. In most cases people would say "the piano sounds good", by which they either mean that it's a good instrument or that it just sounds good in the given context. But I'd expect a music critic to write something like "the interpretation was passionate yet delicate, and the piano sounded particularly well".
     

    hamlet

    Senior Member
    Français (FR)
    Do you have a published example :confused:
    No, but I found a few on Google for you:

    "When this happens, the simplest and most sensible solution to the problem is to adjust the action such that the piano sounds well!" (Rebuilding the Player Piano, Larry Givens) [in my opinion there are other problems in that sentence...]

    "Though the upper string tone has an occasional slight fizziness that betrays the age of the recorded sound..., the piano sounds well" (Gramophone, Sir Compton Mackenzie)

    "The analogue sound is crisp and the piano sounds well, with body yet lightness" (Gramophone)

    "It cannot be said that a violin sounds well because it looks well: its external appearance is entirely relative" (The Strad)

    The point is that "the piano sounds good" is a value judgment as to the instrument itself, whereas "the piano sounds well" is more of a description of the quality of the sound it produces. Hope that makes sense.
     

    fabienne82

    New Member
    french
    I'm doing good is possible, if you mean the opposite of I'm doing evil.

    Americans are much more likely to use good when it should be well. I think it is less common in BE.

    Sounds good is correct. Here you are really taking about the resulting sound, which is good.
    couldn' t we say 'it sounds well' to say 'it sounds correct' ?
     
    Top