Good seems like a nice, simple word at first glance. Most of the time our use of good is good enough. But if we want to use it perfectly well, we need to know how good is different from the word well.
Well can be used as either an adjective (describing a noun/pronoun) or an adverb (describing a verb/adjective). When we say “I feel well,” well is describing the pronoun I. When we say “She did well,” well is describing the verb did. So far, so good. 🙂
Good, on the other hand, is only supposed to be used as an adjective. You can say, “I feel good,” (nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!) but not “She did good.”
To complicate matters, we’ve developed some “acceptable” sayings in English that do use good as an adverb. An example of this is “a good many more.” Why these exceptions? I have no idea.
At least we can agree that there is no such word as goodest. (Even though that would actually make sense. Who decided best was the way to go?)
To show some of the many ways good is used, here is a short story. I’ve put an ✕ next to any incorrect usages, so you can spot them in your own writing.
You May Be Good, But I’m The Goodest X
Gareth was dining alone at his usual table in the Gargoyle Monster Hunters Club when that blasted braggart Stuffington came in.
“Good day, old chap,” said Stuffington. “You don’t mind if I sit here, do you?” He casually slid into the chair across from Gareth.
Gareth ignored him and sipped his Earl Grey tea while studiously reading the paper. Hmm. More rumours of ghost sightings in the slums.
Undeterred, Stuffington announced, “I suppose you’ve heard about my good deed for the day. I’m feeling quite good about it, naturally. Always happy to do my part.”
“I’m sure you are,” muttered Gareth behind the pages.
“It’s not every day you get to take on a gaggle of galumphing golems. There were a good many more of them than I was expecting, but I did them but good. The good people of our city won’t be bothered by them again. They are gone for good.”
“And yet, you’re still here,” said Gareth darkly. He gave up and folded down his paper, glaring at Stuffington.
“Oh, don’t be jealous, old boy. You did good ✕ taking down those ghouls in that gallery, even if one of them did get away. It’s not your fault you’re not as good as I am. You’ll get there when you’re good and ready. You should really read my monster-hunting manual, it would do you good. Pick up some tips.”
“You know, I’m really not feeling well,” said Gareth, getting up from the table. “I’ll see you another time, Stuffington.”
“Oh, let me drive you home. I insist.” Stuffington trailed after him, talking about how the engine of his new motorcar ran so good ✕ that he always made it everywhere in good time.
Gareth felt a prickling at the back of his neck as they left the club. He instinctively ducked sideways as a giant flapping noise came from behind him. He could feel the whoosh of air going over him as a man shrieked.
He looked up and saw Stuffington being carried away by an enormous grey gargoyle.
“Goodbye,” said Gareth, not without some satisfaction.
Bonus Word: Galumph
To galumph means either to move noisily and clumsily or to go prancing in triumph. The second meaning was coined by Lewis Carroll in his fabulously fun poem Jabberwocky.
Definitions were supplied by the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I will hilariously hunt down the horrible letter H…
© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015