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.


5 Answers 5


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.

  • 7
    To me, without more context, the word implies approval rather than grudging acceptance.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 17, 2010 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, 2010 at 14:43

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.


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.

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


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

  • 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, 2010 at 10:06

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