Good or Well | Difference, Definitions & Examples

Good and well are two related words that are sometimes used interchangeably, but they perform different meanings and grammatical roles.

  • Good is an adjective meaning ‘favourable’ or ‘praiseworthy’.
  • Well is an adverb meaning ‘in a satisfactory manner’.
Examples: Good in a sentence Examples: Well in a sentence
Phil’s new car gets good mileage. Darren’s team played well, but they still lost the game.
The protagonist of the film is not believable; in reality, no one is that good. I may not be rich, but I live well.
Arianna is a good teacher, albeit a little impatient. The app functions well, but it needs some improvement.

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What does good mean?

Good can be used as an adjective meaning ‘suitable’ or ‘praiseworthy’ and a noun meaning ‘welfare’ or ‘that which is morally right’. It can also be used to place emphasis on something (e.g., ‘a good bit of work’).

Examples: Good in a sentence
Gayle is a good friend who always offers helpful advice.

Andrew set up a neighborhood watch group for the good of the community.

I waited a good hour before Jerome called me to cancel the meeting.

Good is also commonly used in colloquial speech as an adverb synonymous with ‘well’. However, this should be avoided in formal contexts such as academic writing, as it’s generally considered nonstandard.

Examples: Good as an adverb (informal)
My eyesight is getting worse. I can’t see too good anymore.

You did good! I’m proud of you.

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What does well mean?

Well is an adverb meaning ‘in an effective or satisfactory manner’.

Examples: Well in a sentence
I can’t breathe very well because my nose is blocked.

The old laptop still works well, but it’s a little slow.

Harry can sing well, but he is too shy to perform before an audience.

Well can also be used as an interjection to introduce a remark, a noun referring to a hole used to reach a supply of water, a verb referring to the act of rising to the surface and flowing (often used figuratively), and an adjective referring to a state of good health.

Examples: Other uses of well
Well, the strategy was less effective than we hoped.

Water doesn’t flow into the old well anymore.

Tears began to well from Layla’s eyes.

Rita isn’t feeling well.

Doing well or doing good

Doing well is a phrase meaning ‘in good health’ or ‘successful’. People sometimes use ‘doing good’ in everyday speech to mean ‘doing well’. However, this is considered informal or incorrect and should generally be avoided in writing.

Examples: Doing well in a sentence
Sorcha is doing well after her knee operation.

Are you doing well in your new job?

Note
While well is usually used to modify verbs, sense verbs (e.g., ‘sound’, ‘smell’, ‘look’) are typically used with good instead (e.g., ‘the flowers smell good’).

Well and good

Well and good is part of the expression ‘that’s all well and good’. It’s used in contrast with a following clause to say that while things may seem fine, there may be unexpected consequences or unresolved issues. In this context, both words are used as adjectives.

Examples: Well and good in a sentence
Person A: I have a dentist appointment tomorrow, so you’ll have to present the report to the committee.

Person B: That’s all well and good, but I haven’t prepared anything.

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Worksheet: Well vs. good

You can test your understanding of the difference between ‘well’ and ‘good’ with the worksheet below. Fill in either ‘well’ or ‘good’ in each sentence.

  1. Nina volunteers for a charity that does a lot of _______.
  2. Fred was a _______ football player when he was in college.
  3. Henry recently started taking lessons, but he can already drive _______.
  4. _______, I have a meeting at two o’clock, but I’m free afterwards.
  5. Anthony is doing _______ after the surgery, but he will need physical therapy for a couple of months.
  1. Nina volunteers for a charity that does a lot of good.
    • ‘Good’ can be used as a noun meaning ‘that which is morally right’.
  1. Fred was a good football player when he was in college.
    • ‘Good’ can be used as an adjective meaning ‘agreeable’, ‘favourable’, or ‘praiseworthy’.
  1. Henry recently started taking lessons, but he can already drive well.
    • ‘Well’ is an adverb meaning ‘in an efficient or satisfactory manner’.
  1. Well, I have a meeting at two o’clock, but I’m free afterwards.
    • ‘Well’ can be used as an interjection to introduce a remark. When used at the start of a sentence, it should be followed by a comma.
  1. Anthony is doing well after the surgery, but he will need physical therapy for a couple of months.
    • ‘Doing well’ is a phrase meaning ‘in good health’ or ‘doing what one should’.
  1. He affected/affects an angry tone of voice.
    • ‘Affect’ can be used to describe behavior that is faked or insincere. The past simple form of ‘affect’ is ‘affected’; the present form ‘affects’ would also fit here.

Other interesting language articles

If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, common mistakes, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

Frequently asked questions

What is a synonym for good?

Some synonyms and near synonyms of good (adjective) include:

  • Acceptable
  • Excellent
  • Favourable
  • Great
  • Marvelous
  • Praiseworthy
  • Satisfactory
What is a synonym for well?

Some synonyms and near synonyms of well (adverb) include:

  • Ably
  • Acceptably
  • Admirably
  • Competently
  • Deftly
  • Effectively
  • Efficiently
  • Satisfactorily
Is it ‘going good’ or ‘going well’?

Going well is a phrase meaning ‘proceeding in a satisfactory way’. People sometimes use ‘going good’ to mean the same thing, but this is technically incorrect. While ‘good‘ is sometimes used as an adverb in everyday speech, this should be avoided in formal contexts.

This is also the case for doing well and ‘doing good’.

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Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.