Academics, “I am GOOD” not “I am WELL”!

Filed in:

Nerd Am I – (Academics and Details)


A disturbing trend from some of the most brilliant people I know behooves a comment.  While I never correct grammar of a non-student, I think it is okay to correct the general problem in a public forum.

It is tempting to respond to a question of your state with “I am well, thank you.”  But unless we are saying that we are healthy, then we ought to say, “I am good.”

To be is a copulative (coupling) verb, that is, a linking verb, and not a verb of action.  It must link a noun to a noun or a noun to an adjective, but never to an adverb.  In this case, “to be” links the noun “I” to the adjective “good.”

“I am well” meaning “I am healthy” illustrates this.  Healthy and well, are both adjectives, and neither is an adverb.  So is “fine.”

I feel good; I seem good; I am good.

—of course, I am not inherently good.  But that is beside the point.


8 Responses to Academics, “I am GOOD” not “I am WELL”!

  1. David Welch says:

    Or, you could also correctly say, “I am DOING well”, could you not? Wouldn’t that state that you are good but not necessarily imply that you are speaking of health since it does not directly speak about how YOU are, but instead, how your “doing” is? (if that makes any sense) 🙂

    • saintluke says:

      You are exactly correct. The “well” is adverbial to the verb “doing.” If you say, however, “I am well,” and if you don’t mean healthy, and therefore you mean it as an adverb, then the only verb you could mean is “am” which is not an action unless you are talking about existing… the process of existing.

      I am well = I am “amming” with success.

      How is that being coming along? Oh, I am well. Very well. Such a good ammer am I.

  2. David Welch says:

    I suppose I could be wrong though.

  3. Annie says:

    In Australia, they ask, “How are you going?”, not “How are you doing?”, as they do in the US. People typically respond “I am well,” “We are well”, etc.

  4. Chris Griffith says:

    So, when James Brown sang, “I feel good…,” he was right! And besides, “I feel well, I knew that I would,” doesn’t have the same ring to it!

  5. Carolyn says:

    We had this conversation with Anthony and Irene and Becky W. in France, and Anthony insisted one should never say “I am good” in answer to “How are you?” because “I am good” indicates moral rectitude, which we ought not to claim. As I recall these 4 years later, he asserted that “I am well” is correct because the question is inquiring about your health, which encompasses more than physical health.

    • saintluke says:

      I can imagine Anthony saying all that. He also told me I was uncouth for drinking tea I bought in bags. When I say, “How are you?” I am never opposed to hearing about your health….but I am usually just wanting to know how you feel. Are you sad? Not good. Happy? Good.

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