No (adv): used before adjectives and adverbs to mean ‘not’ (source)

She's feeling no better this morning.

Reply by no later than 21 July.

good (adv): (especially North American English, informal) well (source)

‘How's it going?’ ‘Pretty good.’

(non-standard) Now, you listen to me good!

is it idiomatic to say "speak English no well" & "speak English no good"?

  • 2
    No, it is not idiomatic to use no with adverbs. You would use not instead. Jun 19, 2017 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


For your example phrase

speak English not well

would be a better choice, however, more idiomatic would be

not speak English well

He does not speak English well.

using "well" (adverb) with speak (verb) instead of "good" (adjective)

He speaks English well.
He is well spoken.

You could also say

His English is no good.
His English is good.

  • 1
    What about "He is no good at English"? Jun 19, 2017 at 12:57
  • 1
    Yes, that is correct "no good" is the predicate adjective, though "He is not good at English" is also used. "He is not good at English, he neither writes nor speaks it well."
    – Peter
    Jun 19, 2017 at 12:58
  • No native English speaker would ever use the phrase "speak English not well." Jun 19, 2017 at 20:03
  • @P.E.Dant Agreed though the fact that the phrase is out of context makes it tricky. "I speak English. Not well, but I do." is idiomatic in spoken English though it doesn't have the meaning the OP intended. I'm wondering if there is a way to fix the phrase. When I read "not speak English well" it also seemed to me unidiomatic. Yet obviously "He does not speak English well," is perfectly fine.
    – DRF
    Jun 20, 2017 at 15:11

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .