9

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

3

4 Answers 4

15

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.

2
11

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.

9
  • 5
    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, 2011 at 15:03
  • 1
    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) Mar 30, 2011 at 21:13
  • 2
    @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, 2011 at 10:33
  • 1
    @Roman: yes, I would say "a fine idea" is better - stands out more - than "a good idea".
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 31, 2011 at 15:28
  • 1
    @ColinFine: As an adjective, I think "fine" is often more descriptive of a category of things to which something belongs, rather than a description of an individual object. Describing a bottle as a "fine wine" suggests that it is from a good maker and vintage; describing it as a "good wine" suggests that the liquid in the bottle has been tasted and found to be palatable. As a predicate or adverb, "fine" has come to be accepted as meaning "not worth complaining about", even if the reason for not complaining has more to do with a fear of consequences than a lack of basis.
    – supercat
    Nov 15, 2013 at 17:15
0

Supercat pointed out in a comment that

As an adjective, I think "fine" is often more descriptive of a category of things to which something belongs, rather than a description of an individual object. Describing a bottle as a "fine wine" suggests that it is from a good maker and vintage; describing it as a "good wine" suggests that the liquid in the bottle has been tasted and found to be palatable.

As a predicate or adverb, "fine" has come to be accepted as meaning "not worth complaining about", even if the reason for not complaining has more to do with a fear of consequences than a lack of basis.

Corey Coogan pointed out in a comment that

"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."

-3

Fine is the same as good! There is no difference! So if your teacher says your essay is fine, you should have 100 percent right to get an A+ on it!

1
  • There is some nuance of difference between them. Fine can be used to mean average in some contexts. If you suggest we do something and I say "Okay, fine," that doesn't necessarily mean I think it's a good idea; it just means I don't have any objections to it.
    – Nicole
    May 12, 2015 at 17:02

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