well: 1 SATISFACTORILY in a successful or satisfactory way

Did you sleep well?

James reads quite well for his age.

All the team played very well today.

Simon doesn’t work well under pressure.

The festival was very well organized.

The concert went very well.

Normally, we say "A sport team plays well", "he slept well", "he reads and writes well", "he studies well".

But, say, a boy is playing with his toys comfortably and quietly without bothering you. And we don't mean he is very skillful at playing some specific difficult toys such as lego for example.

When I literally translated that idea from my mother tongue into English, it'll be "play well and let me do my things ok boy!".

And, in some other situations, I say "eat well, ok boy" to mean "the boy eats up all the food in an obeyable way without throwing it or spit it out or ruin the meal"

Could we say "eat well" and "play well" like that?

1 Answer 1


To "eat well" specifically means to eat in a healthy way. Telling someone to "play well" sounds to me more like "have a good game", i.e. you're hoping the person would have a good performance at a sports game.

You can ask a child to "go play", which implies that you want the child to leave you to your activities. For your second example, usually there's been a conversation with the child on how to eat properly (e.g. without spitting the food or throwing it around), so you can say "eat like we talked" (if you were the one who had that conversation) or "eat properly".

By the way, "go play and let me do my things, ok boy?" sounds like you're angry at the boy. If you're not, you might say something more like "can you go play while I do some work/finish some things?"

Also, you wouldn't typically address a boy as just "boy". People say stuff like "hey boy!" and "that's a good boy!" when they're talking to their dogs, and "ok boy?" sounds like something I'd hear in the American South. It's not incorrect to say it, but it sounds a bit unusual. I'd drop it entirely (the boy knows he's a boy), until you learn the appropriateness of expressions like "little man" and "young mister" in the right context.

In summary, I'd say:

Go play so I can get some things done over here, alright?

Eat properly, alright?

  • Your answer helps me to come up with "enjoy playing" or "enjoy eating" which are closer to what I meant. Could I say "enjoy playing / eating while I do some work, alright"?
    – Tom
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 6:06
  • 3
    @Tom if you want to suggest good behavior, "play nicely" might be the phrase you're looking for.
    – phoog
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 6:29
  • The forms with "enjoy" sound formal, e.g. a waiter at a restaurant might say "Enjoy your dinner, sir." Similarly, a receptionist at a hotel might say "Enjoy staying with us." You probably wouldn't address a child so formally, except if you switch things around a bit, e.g. "I made you your favorite meal - enjoy!" (= have fun eating your favorite meal)
    – RuslanD
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 6:31
  • @phoog, interesting, "play nicely" or "eat nicely", are they natural? Do native people often say like that?
    – Tom
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 6:32
  • 3
    I've said this before: I feel very sorry for Tom's child. Commented May 2, 2020 at 6:35

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