Good versus Well, Bad versus Badly

The differences between the pairs bad and badly and good and well are subtle. Bad and good are adjectives and normally come after linking, or so called “state of being,” verbs. Badly and well are adverbs and modify action verbs. Making things a little tricky, well can also be an adjective. Choose the better form below.
  1. When preparing for the partner orientation, try to remember that you will do (good, well).
  2. Breaking Bad is about a high school chemistry teacher that turns (bad, badly).
  3. Changing the Top Line before consulting with the evaluator made him feel (bad, badly).
  4. She thought she’d pick up The Can’t Cook Book because she could never cook this (good, well).
  5. The Mustang may need new tie rods because its steering is sloppy and it turns (bad, badly).
  6. Smelly cat really did smell (bad, badly).
  7. I am (good, well).

  1. Do is an action verb, so well is the correct choice.
    When preparing for the partner orientation, try to remember that you will do well.

  2. Turn can be tricky. When used in the transformative sense, it is a linking verb and would take the adjective bad.
    Breaking Bad is about a high school chemistry teacher who turns bad.

  3. Badly is a common hypercorrection, but feel is a linking verb. To say you “feel badly” is to imply you have a poor sense of touch.
    Changing the Top Line before consulting with the evaluator made him feel bad.

  4. The informal good feels tempting here, but well is the better choice with the action verb cook.
    She thought she’d pick up The Can’t Cook Book because she could never cook this well.

  5. This is an example of the other sense of turn, the action-oriented sense.
    The Mustang may need new tie rods because its steering is sloppy and it turns badly.

  6. Smell is another linking verb. If you said the cat “smelled badly,” you would be implying that the cat’s sense of smell was not acute.
    Smelly cat really did smell bad.

  7. The be verb (am, is, was, were, being, been) is a linking verb, making the adjective good a good choice. Well can also be an adjective but, as an adjective, usually means “sound in health.”
    I am good, or if you are just returning to work after a couple of sick days, I am well
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