Have you ever had this brief conversation?
“Hi! How are you?”
“I’m good. How are you?”
Perhaps, like me, you have wondered, Should I have used well instead of good? That niggling in the back of my mind always made me question if I got it correct. Surely I’m not the only one . . . right?
Turns out, there was no need for concern. In spoken communication, good and well both can be appropriate. Here’s why.
The adverbial form of good is mainly used in spoken form, written speech, or familiar and informal contexts; and it means the same thing as well: satisfactorily, in a kindly or friendly manner, with skill or aptitude, and sensibly. You can see that these definitions answer the question, “How?”
Good as an adjective means favorable, attractive, suitable, free from injury or disease, sound, agreeable, and pleasant. The adjective well means prosperous, being in good standing or favor, satisfactory, pleasing, desirable, completely cured, and a cause for thankfulness. These definitions answer the question, “What kind of condition?”
So if you are wanting to tell someone how you are doing or the condition you are in, you may use good or well. Either of these words answer the question appropriately.
Read the adjectival definition of well again. Reading it fills me with joy.
When I think of the good v. well issue, my mind turns to God, the only one who is independently good.
And I’m reminded He has made my soul to be well.
You may have heard “God is good” so often that the meaning has been lost. He is good in a way that is full of joy, full of peace, full of everything you could ever need, and even overflowing. Out of His goodness, He has given us the free gift of full restoration. When we say it is well with our souls, we are saying that in Him we are prosperous, in good favor, pleasing, desirable, completely cured, and a cause for thankfulness. (Did you know God is thankful for you?)
The work Jesus did in us is a total work; and although the flesh often fights against Him, our souls are at peace, knowing that since our lives are hidden in the life of Jesus, our Father is always well pleased with us.
Next time someone asks how you are doing, remember your soul is well; and you are acceptable, pleasing, favorable, prosperous, and desirable—all because God is good.
For a comprehensive definition of good and well, consult Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.).