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In French, you could use the verb 'go' in both cases:

'Les choses vont bien.', meaning 'Things are turning out all right.'

and

'Elle va bien.', meaning 'She is in good (physical and mental) health'.

How about in English?

2 Answers 2

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I know it's the same verb for both contexts in French, but in English we usually speak of someone DOING well (often, ... for themselves, financially or health-wise), but something GOING well (often, from the perspective of the speaker, who wants the thing to be successful).

The patient is doing well (responding to treatment, on the road to recovery)
The project is going well (it's on track to meet its target)


Consider also the formulaic greeting How do you do? - that's a bit "dated" today, but many of us still use the alternative How [are] you doing? You won't often hear How [are] you going?, though.

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People can 'do' or 'go'; and things can neither 'do', nor can they 'go'. That said, however, if the subject of the verb is 'a thing' or 'some things', then you should use the verb 'go'; So,

Things are going well.

On the other hand, if the subject of the verb is 'a person' or 'some people', then you should use the verb 'do'; So,

Gwendoline is doing well.

Note, however, that it does not mean 'Gwendoline is in good (physical and/or mental) health' but 'Gwendoline is successful,', 'Gwendoline achieves her goals.'

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  • Google Books claims over 10,000 written instances of the patient is doing well. Perhaps a handful of them are being used to mean the patient is gaining financially (or "achieving her goals", in some other way), but the vast majority will mean in (or moving towards) good health. Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 18:38
  • What do you mean by "things can neither 'do', nor can they 'go'"? Things go places and do things. For example, "How's your new widget maker?" "It's doing a good job making widgets, but it's so noisy." "Where is that bus going?" "It's going back to the bus barn."
    – Juhasz
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 18:39
  • @Juhasz: Things don't go places, YOU put them here and there, and things don't do things, YOU use them to do things, is what I mean.
    – user58319
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 8:16

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