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You Look Well, Babe. Adverbs: well, good, badly, etc.

By Jacqueline Schaaljegood wellTom Coates

I’ve put some old quizzes on the website about adverbs and adjectives, which you can do here and here. In case you need the explanations, start reading here.

In this article we’ll clear up when you should use well instead of good, and some more things.

First I have a question. Look at the following two sentences.

Do they mean the same?

A You look good.

B You look well.

There is a difference.

In A, you’re saying a person’s looks are attractive. It’s like saying: You look great.

In B, you’re saying they look healthy.

Get it?

We’re not interested here in whether good and well are adjectives. Officially, good is an adjective and well is an adverb. But we want to be aware of the meaning.

Here are two other sentences, variations on the same thing:

A I feel good today.

B I feel well today.

A means: I have a good day today. It’s like saying: I feel great. I can do a lot of work today, because I feel rested.

B You can say this after you have been ill or have had a headache or some other pain or ache. But now you feel better.

Okay, so to recap: I feel good means you have a good day.

I feel well means I feel healthy.

Note: The word goodly doesn’t exist in the sense of an adverb of good. There is a word goodly, but it means a substantial amount. Like: She has a goodly sum in her bank account.

What about bad and badly?

Well, that’s easy actually, because with bad you use the regular bad as adjective and badly is the adverb.

So we get:

I feel bad. (Bad says something about I.)

He sleeps badly. (Badly says something about sleeps.)

Note that you can’t say I feel badly. This would mean that this person has a bad sense of touch. Theoretically this would be possible if someone had a neurological problem, but I’ve never heard anyone say it. Except, of course, by students who got confused.

Here’s a little exercise. See whether you really got it.

Choose between good and well, or bad and badly.

You can do this quiz online here.

1 You look pale. Are you __________?

2 I’m going home early today. I’m not feeling _________.

3 Wow, you look __________ in that dress.

4 Yellow suits you __________.

5 Pink doesn’t go ____________ with orange.

6 You’ve chosen those colours ____________.

7 My, that essay was written __________.

8 Those grapes look __________. I’m throwing them away.

9 That scarf looks __________ on you.

10 Junk food every day. You’re obviously eating ___________.

11 The weather is __________ today. Let’s stay inside.

12 You need to raise your voice. Your uncle hears _________.

If you’d like to do more exercises, check out the free exercises on the website or make an order to become an exclusive member to receive more.

3 thoughts on “You Look Well, Babe. Adverbs: well, good, badly, etc.

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