Good / Well – Manu Ginóbili in SI’s NBA Preview 2014-15

2014-12-23 14.39.17First and foremost, in the interest of full disclosure, Ginóbili’s first language is not English. With that said, this is still a good example of the confusion good and well can cause. And, as is often the case, this confusion stems from the fact that ‘well’ can be used as both an adjective and an adverb. Further complicating the issue is the distinction between a linking verb and an action verb, the former of which will require an adjective, the latter of which will require an adverb.

Some preliminaries:

  • Well as an adjective means not-sick (so all those people that like to answer the perfunctory ‘How you doing?’ with the more pretentious-sounding ‘I’m well. How are you?’ are really saying that they’re not sick as opposed to that they are good, which may be what they want to say…but maybe not).
  • A linking verb is a verb that equates; the most common is the verb to be: I am a a teacher, you are tall, etc.
  • But sense verbs tend to be linking verbs as well, which means they will require an adjective: That tastes good; we would never say ‘That tastes well’ because ‘good’ is an adjective in this example.

So back to the Ginóbili example.

  • Because ‘feel’ is a linking verb, it requires an adjective, rather than an adverb.
  • ‘Feeling well’ means that your sense of feeling is functioning well, i.e. you’re a good feeler.
  • ‘Feeling good’ is what Ginóbili means, because he is (feeling) good.
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