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.

Is the usage of the word "fine" correct in the following sentence?

This works fine

It seems that the author of the statement wanted to say that something was working, but not working well.

share|improve this question
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I believe that in case of written English, the sentence does not indicate the mood of the author. It's more related to spoken emotion here. The author may grudgingly say 'This works fine' to indicate it's not as well as he had expected, or in an exciting tone, he may say 'This works fine!' to indicate his pleasure.

share|improve this answer
6  
To me, without more context, the word implies approval rather than grudging acceptance. –  Colin Fine Nov 17 '10 at 12:59
1  
I agree that the default is definitely positive, but in the right context, disappointment is possible. I think the definition of "not working well" (which was used in the question) might be too strong for fine. Do you all agree? I think, at a minimum, fine means that something meets the minimum requirements for working — i.e., there is nothing wrong with it. The disappointment comes in hoping the thing could work even better than that. –  Kosmonaut Nov 17 '10 at 14:43
add comment

Like others, I would assume the bare sentence to have a positive connotation. To get across a sense of disappointment, I'd write something like

I suppose this works fine...

or in a context which allows more informality,

I suppose this works OK.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Yes, that usage works fine.

It is most likely to mean that it is working well enough, conveying satisfaction/approval (though without enthusiasm). You might say something like this when asked about replacing something you are satisfied with. For example:

  • Developer: The front-end is done, but it's kind of ugly. Need me to fix it?

    • Boss: This works fine. It's only for company internal use.
  • Telemarketer: Get our new super-fast DSL! Only $299.99 per second!

    • Customer: No thanks. What I have works fine.
share|improve this answer
add comment

While, as jcarmody says, fine is an adjective rather than adverb, phrases such as this are fine for informal contexts.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Fine is an adjective, not an adverb. It should say something like: "This works well."

share|improve this answer
2  
Merriam-Webster, AHD, Collins, and Wiktionary all beg to differ by having an entry for fine as an adverb. BNC has 5 cites for "works fine", and Google returns almost 13 million hits. –  RegDwigнt Nov 17 '10 at 10:06
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

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.