I'm a native English speaker. On a site where I help Russians with English, one of them wrote the sentence:

My watch has been working good since I fixed it.

Naturally, I pointed out that the correct way to express this is with well or fine, however he insisted to the contrary, instructing me as follows, and I quote:

no, actually good has become an adverb long time ago, check some new dictionaries. Plus I was just told by a native speaker in the TeamSpeak that both variants (working good and working well) are valid, theres no mistake or how u put it "isnt grammatical" in using good. Its just a matter of choice or habit. Plus ofc the "feeling good", "I feel good I knew that I would" very old song n lots of things like that exist no matter what!

In all fairness, I wanted to consult other natives to hear their opinion on this. I'm very reluctant to believe that this is now considered correct (much less that it became an adverb "a long time ago.") I know that some natives speak this way, but that doesn't make it correct or acceptable in my book. What do you think?

  • 9
    ... I honestly think this depends on the level of "acceptable" you're looking for. Do people use it in everyday English? Yes. Would a professional accept it in writing, particularly in the case of something academic? Unlikely. What is your definition of "acceptable"?
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 22:15

4 Answers 4


I would tell your students it's a "trap word," that is, something they might hear when conversing with native speakers but something that others might find jarring or unacceptable. (English has a handful of these – another that I can think of is "The data is..." vs. "The data are...")

As for Mr. Check New Dictionaries, I cringe when someone is dishing out grammar advice while using "u" for you and "n" for and. That undermines his credibility. Moreover, as for his assertion that it's "valid," he's partly right, and partly wrong.

When I consulted the WordNet 3.0 dictionary, for example, it said:


(often used as a combining form) in a good or proper or satisfactory manner or to a high standard ('good' is a nonstandard dialectal variant for 'well');
- Example: "the children behaved well"
- Example: "a task well done"
- Example: "the party went well"
- Example: "he slept well"
- Example: "a well-argued thesis"
- Example: "a well-seasoned dish"
- Example: "a well-planned party"
- Example: "the baby can walk pretty good"

So the crux of the matter would be this: is ‘valid’ an accurate synonym for ‘nonstandard dialectal variant’? I don't think so. Like that fellow said, it's a matter of choice and habit – but a lot of habits are bad habits.

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    Thank you, JR. for an excellent explanation. I agree that it's a bad habit and one I won't personally endorse - as "judgmental" as that may sound.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 22:48
  • 1
    There is a distinct difference between being judgmental and exhibiting judgment. In your anecdote, you seem to me only to counsel good judgment. Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 23:54
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    +1 You might point out that the argument to "I feel good" is irrelevant: "good" is not used an adverb there but quite properly as an adjective Predicate Complement, describing the Subject. We don't say "I feel happily" or "I feel sadly", with adverbs, we say "I feel happy" and "I feel sad". Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 1:15
  • @StoneyB - "I feel good" and "I feel well" have different meanings in any case. The second refers only to one's state of health, not one's state of general happiness. But in my part of the UK, the dialect usage "badly" is still fairly common, meaning "unwell." It's often used for minor childhood ailments - e.g. "Johnny can't go to school today because he's badly".
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 2:39
  • @alephzero In my part of the southern US you hear po'ly used the same way. Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 2:41

Linking verbs (is/am/are) and almost-linking verbs such as smells, sounds, looks, tastes, feels can all be used with good. It sounds good - is correct or acceptable. He hears good or He speaks good English - is NOT grammatically correct. It will probably pass into correctness since English is very adaptable to common use. However, as a teacher I'm going to continue to teach that "well" is the verb you use to describe HOW an action verb is being done.

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    “He speaks good English” is acceptable. “He speaks English good” isn’t.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 19:57
  • However, I wasn’t referring to copular verbs here.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 20:00

It may now be accepted (grudgingly, I'd think) as grammatically correct, but if a native english speaker in England or Australia (and in the USA, but may be judged slightly less harshly) heard someone speak like this, it would immediately scream uneducated / lower class / unsophisticated.

99.99% of people (like my english teacher mother) know it is (was) technically incorrect, and will always have this gut reaction to it, even if they read about it's acceptability as an adverb in the oxford dictionary.

  • I would put it rather differently: if a British native speaker heard "my watch is working good", they wouldn't typically think "uneducated / lower class / unsophisticated". They would just think "wrong", or at a stretch "stereotypical old-timer Hollywood cowboy speak". No native speaker in Britain would use the word that way, it's not a class thing at all. Commented May 18, 2021 at 9:42

Good is and has always been an adjective. It is used as an adverb colloquially by those who do not understand grammar.

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