1. I am good.
  2. I am well.
  3. I feel good.
  4. I feel well.
  5. I am feeling well.
  6. I am feeling good.
  7. I am doing good.
  8. I am doing well.

A former English teacher told me #1 is improper English and to use #2. Is this true and why so?

I Google searched this issue and found this article. The author clames both I am good and I am well are proper English, though I don't follow the argument.

The nitpickers will tell you that "well" is an adverb (and therefore modifies verbs) and that "good" is an adjective (and therefore modifies nouns), but the situation isn't that simple.

To me this statement is empty. So what if "well" is an adverb and "good" is an adjective? What grammar rule is being contradicted if this were true?

I have heard the argument that #5 and #6 are referring to the capacity to experience the sensation of touch. What I don't understand is how #3 and #4 can't be interpreted in the same way?

Does it make a difference if the asked question is "how have you been?" versus "how are you?"?

  • I would suggest that "I'm good" is a more common American response, and "I'm fine" is a more common British response.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 23:28

1 Answer 1


The rule you would be breaking is using the correct grammatical modifier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_modifier

In the statement:

"I am good."

'good' plays the role of adjective and and an adjective modifies a noun. In the statement above, there is no noun being modified by 'good'. A grammatically correct statement would be:

"I am well." as 'well' is an adverb which is modifying the verb of 'am' (first person, singular, present tenses of 'to be') .

Statements such as:

"I am feeling good." are also incorrect as 'feeling' is a verb.

The correct form while maintaining the adjective 'good' would be:

"I am feeling good feelings." Redundant at best, so we use an adverb to modify the verb 'feeling' instead, to be proper:

"I am feeling well."

For your question:

Does it make a difference if the asked question is "how have you been?" versus "how are you?"?

The answer is yes.

How have you been?

This question is referring to the past, 'been' being the past tense of 'be'.

How are you?

This question is referring to the present, 'are' being the present tense of 'be'.

  • Thanks for the reply. I've never understood this well and am still confused. You say there is no noun in "I am good" but isn't "I" a noun as it's naming a person?
    – Celeritas
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 21:47
  • I understand your confusion. To clarify, I should have stated that there is no "object" being modified by 'good'. In the sentence 'I am good', 'I' is a noun but it plays the role of the subject, 'am' is the verb and plays the role of the action, 'good' is an adjective and plays the role of 'modifier to the object', the object is missing. When speaking, objects tend to be implied. So if you asked me: How are you? and I said: I am good. There is an implication that my feelings or well being is what is 'good'. We tend not to speak this way because it takes too long to say. Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 21:56
  • 1
    "I am good" and "I am feeling good" are not incorrect. Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 9:31

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