Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the difference between fine and good? Please suggest the proper usage.

share|improve this question
Perhaps there is a specific usage that you are interested in? –  z7sg Ѫ Mar 30 '11 at 13:07
fine idea vs good idea –  Roman Yankovsky Mar 30 '11 at 13:10

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Something that is fine is better than something that is merely good:

fine 1. Of superior quality, skill, or appearance: a fine day; a fine writer.

good 1. Being positive or desirable in nature; not bad or poor: a good experience; good news from the hospital.

As you see, good can simply mean "not bad"; but fine means superior, excellent.

See definitions here and here.

share|improve this answer
For example, when describing the condition of a (second-hand) book, fine is better than very good which is better than good. –  Gilles Mar 30 '11 at 21:37

Robusto's answer is correct when they are being used attributively, to describe something in particular.

But in idiomatic usage on their own, there is really nothing to choose between them:

"That's fine" means the same as "That's good" or "That's OK".

"Fine" also has a subsidiary meaning of "healthy, well", so "I feel fine" is appropriate when somebody has expressed a concern about your health. "I feel good" would not be idiomatic there, at least in the UK.

share|improve this answer
Ironically "I feel good" has a stronger connotation, at least in my experience (US). "I feel great" > "I feel good" > "I feel fine" –  Davy8 Mar 30 '11 at 15:03
You hear "I am doing good" for instance here in the states all the time (where of course "doing well" or "doing fine" is more correct....) –  Joseph Weissman Mar 30 '11 at 17:42
I would take "fine" one step further and say it can actually be perceived as a negative response. For example: "Hows the food?" - "It's fine." That's not taken well, but to say "It's good." is a real complement. "That's fine" is also a common response from someone who is giving something up or on the short-end of a compromise: "You drive the kids all over the place and I'll watch TV, OK?" - "Fine." It can go on and on (at least in the US) –  Corey Coogan Mar 30 '11 at 21:13
@Roman: as an adjective preceding a noun, "fine" is rather rare (except in set expressions like "fine wine" and "fine arts"), so if it is used it is generally exceptional, and stronger than "good". As a predicate or adverb ("I'm fine", "I feel fine", "That's fine") it is no stronger than "good" and often weaker. –  Colin Fine Mar 31 '11 at 10:33
@Roman: yes, I would say "a fine idea" is better - stands out more - than "a good idea". –  Colin Fine Mar 31 '11 at 15:28

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.