Sunday, March 23, 2014

Really Real and for Real, Really: Adjective-Adverb Confusion, Part 3

Which is right: do well or do good? You've likely heard it either way. The same rule applies to this case as in the sentence Take it slow, which I explained in Part 1 of this series.

Let's start with the premise that well is an adverb, modifying a verb (e.g., She drives well), and good is an adjective, modifying a noun (e.g., She is a good driver). But not always. Both good and well can be adjectives, as in I feel good (state of mind) and I feel well (state of health).

Back to do well and do good. If you perform with excellence on a particular task, such as an examination or a rodeo trick, then do well is correct. If you mean to act in a regularly good manner that benefits others, meaning to generally be in a state of doing good things, then do good is correct. Here are two correct examples:

  • Bob did well in addressing the audience's questions.
  • Eve did good in giving time and money to charity every year.