I know that the adverb modifies a verb except for in some limited cases such as verbs of the senses or copula.

"It tastes good.", not "It tastes well."

"It looks good.", not "It looks well."

"It seems good.", not "It seems well."

"It appears good.", not "It appears well."


However, I have noticed that at times it seems that go can substitute for some verbs of the senses such as in…

"That color goes good with your complexion." (looks)

"Cheddar cheese goes good with burgers." (tastes)

In spite of an answer to a similar question, I am not satisfied.

I did an Ngram search, and it appears that "well" is vastly preferred over "good"; however, Google.Books does seem to indicate that “good” has usage with go when discussing “looks” or “taste”, although it is not often seen in print.

I have searched through 3 pages of the 9th print edition of OALD, and cannot find support for the idea: however…

Can Go substitute for some verbs of the senses, and so take an adjective rather than an adverb?

Is there some kind of an explanation to describe the (mis)usage, or is just a matter of “correctness”?

  • 7
    Go with sth : This wine goes particularly well with seafood. dictionary.cambridge.org/it/dizionario/inglese/go-with-sth
    – user 66974
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 19:50
  • 14
    As for “good” as an adverb Macmillan Dictionary defines good also as an ADVERB MAINLY AMERICAN SPOKEN - a way of saying ‘well’ that many people think is not correct - He’s doing pretty good at his new job. macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/good_3 also oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/good_3
    – user 66974
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 20:05
  • 20
    I’d say that’s just dialectal substitution of good for adverbial well. To people like me who do not use good as a flat adverb at all (except in certain fixed expressions of dialect-mimicking origin, like “gotcha real good”), “goes good with” is completely ungrammatical. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:26
  • 6
    Ngrams often work better with an alternative such as "goes well with" vs "goes good with". As expected, the well version is far more common
    – Henry
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 8:03
  • 9
    It is kind of amusing to compare the search hits for “goes well with” and “goes good with.” People on the first page of hits ask what “goes well with” polenta, lobster, avocado, Earl Grey, ratatouille, braised rabbit, and potato gnocchi. They ask what “goes good with” chili, scallops, meatballs, stuffed peppers and whisky.
    – Davislor
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 16:17

8 Answers 8


sense verbs or sensory verbs are generally intransitive:

They are: look, seem, taste, feel, smell, and sound.

They all can be followed by adjectives.

You look good.
He sounds terrible.
That tastes scrumptious. [all adjectives]

the verb go is an action or active verb. Therefore, it needs an adverb:

  • This wine goes well with that cheese.
  • That color goes badly with your skin tone.
  • That pictures goes horribly with this decor. [all adverbs]

So, this question is easily solved.

If someone says, "This wine goes good with that cheese." that marks the speaker as unschooled. I am sorry to say it but that is the way of the world, which I did not invent and which I am not judging by saying that.

do good and do well

good and well and mistakes

class pattern

This should satisfy the evidence hungry:

The class pattern is a typical sociolinguistic pattern – a characteristic type of social stratification - it results from the correlation of a particular linguistic variable with the non-linguistic variable of social class, i.e. socioeconomic status (usually in combination with speech style).

A formulation of the class pattern:

There is a relationship between social class membership (socioeconomic status) and the use of a particular speech variety in the form that:

The higher the socio-economic status, the higher is the frequency of using standard forms of speech (socially accepted and positively valued speech varieties or prestige varieties) and the lower is the frequency of using non-standard forms of speech (non-prestige varieties) in all styles of speech. The lower the socio-economic status, the lower is the frequency of using standard forms of speech (socially accepted and positively valued speech varieties) and the higher is the frequency of using non-standard forms of speech (non-prestige varieties) in all styles of speech.

[bolding mine]

"go good" is non-standard as per the text and grammar cited above, and "go well" is standard.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 3:58
  • 2
    I think this is a correct assessment... for fifty years ago, at least in the US. The transition from using adverb forms to adjective forms in the adverb place has become much more widespread. Sure in newspapers and books the editors make sure it is 'well', but in speech it seems a little weird to use 'well'. Like putting on airs 'ooh... fancy talk'.
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 13:34
  • 1
    @Mitch In my own speech, I simply would not ever say: This x goes good with some y. And I don't consider that fancy speech at all. But I would probably often change well to nicely. And in writing of an expository nature, I think it would be something else altogether such as a good match.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 13:47

My initial response to this question was . . . "Ewwww. That's just incorrect. It should be well, not good."

Then, upon further reflection, I took your premise into account. Is the word go being used as a sensory verb here.

I do not believe it is. Rather I think this is merely informal usage of the word good, not the transmogrification of the word go into a sensory verb.

Notice that I am not saying incorrect usage, but rather informal usage. Frustrating as it may be, we have to allow for the fact that usage is what defines language. Much of what we consider correct today was probably informal usage a century (or even a decade) ago.

  • 5
    @Chronocidal I don't disagree in spirit. But, I'm a pragmatist at heart. Egregious has taken on that meaning. And, it is what it is. There's no Central Committee or College of the English Language who makes the decisions for us. I have thought about this literally every day since the OED added the meaning of figuratively to their definition of the word literally. (Irony intended)
    – David M
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 13:11
  • 11
    @Chronocidal - you happen to be on a site called English Language and USAGE (ELU) . You might start a campaign to eliminate usage from the site and possible from everyday spoken language.
    – user 66974
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 13:56
  • 7
    @Chronocidal "[egregious] has been used sarcastically with such great frequency that many people have come to believe that it has a negative connotation" Apparently those people include the editors of dictionaries: Webster, Cambridge. Webster describes the positive meaning as 'archaic' and Cambridge doesn't mention it at all. Where (or when) hast thou lernt English?
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 14:29
  • 5
    @Chronocidal “Enormous” has gone in the opposite direction: it originally meant abnormal. A joke from the 1890s has a parvenu businessman boasting of his “enormous” profits and not even knowing how right he was. Around the same time, it was considered ignorant to use “Hopefully,” or “Thankfully,” as anything other than adverbs meaning full of hope/thanks. It was to be hoped that the modern usage would not catch on, but thankfully it did. Only an ignoramus would use words that mixed Greek and Latin roots, such as automobile, electrocute or telephone.
    – Davislor
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 15:39
  • 6
    The most important part of this answer, I think, is the first sentence. It sounds like ESL, and if that’s not the reaction you want other native speakers to have, say “goes well with” in this context.
    – Davislor
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 15:46

Due to the nature of how languages work, if enough people use this format (which is most certainly true) then it becomes grammatically acceptable. Sort of how '10 items or less' is equally as grammatically correct as '10 items or fewer.'

  • 2
    Who said anything about it not being grammatical? It isn't about grammar at all.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 15:18
  • The premise that *10 items or less is correct is incorrect. Some people are fine with it, while others are not. The same is true of good as an adverb.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 16:52
  • No matter how many thousands say: If you would go, ou would see him. It's still non-standard.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 20:49

The question asked was:

Can Go substitute for some verbs of the senses, and so take an adjective rather than an adverb?

Sense verbs have several special properties. One of these is that they can take a bare infinitive clause with a subject in the oblique case if a pronoun. For example:

  1. I saw him enter the house through the basement window.
  2. I heard him tell them the story.

Go cannot be substituted there for those, so I wouldn’t say that go can ever be a “sense” verb like see or hear. But certainly there are many scenarios under which go can take an adjective as a complement.

Think of food that’s gone bad, for example, or gone putrid or whatnot. Those are adjectives. When food goes bad, even though it’s your senses that tell you this is its state, that still doesn’t make go a sense verb. (Oddly, I don’t think food can ever go good, only bad.)

The OED provides at least nine separate senses or subsenses in which go takes an adjective for a complement, but to go good with is not a licensed use, nor even a documented one. Here is a sampling of just a few of the OED’s zillions of citatations for some of these senses of go than can take an adjective complement:

  • a1616 W. Shakespeare Tempest (1623) ɪᴠ. i. 241
    Wit shall not goe vn-rewarded while I am King of this Country.
  • 1772 tr. J. A. Dumay Lett. to Mr. Kennicott 185
    The text of the Psalms went equal with your ancient manuscripts.
  • 1875 Chem. News 28 May 233/1
    The milk went putrid after thirty-six hours.
  • 1884 R. Buchanan Foxglove Manor III. xxxiii. 122
    Her cheeks went scarlet.
  • 1889 Sat. Rev. 23 Nov. 589/2
    Marlborough was by no means unlikely to have gone Jacobite after all.
  • 1891 Harper's Mag. Oct. 720/2
    Before us lay a sea of fern, gone a russet brown from decay.
  • 1893 Sketch 15 Feb. 178/1
    The Government..are going very strong, as the rowing-man says.
  • 1914 S. Lewis Our Mr. Wrenn v. 63
    We'll go Dutch.
  • 1919 ‘K. Mansfield’ Let. 17 Oct. (1993) III. 29
    My eyes have gone all bloodshot.
  • 1943 ‘C. Dickson’ She died Lady xix. 170
    Whatever else you do,..don't go psychoanalytic on me. I can't stand it.
  • 1956 Life 2 Apr. 26/3
    The farm region of Center Creek township and the village of Granada..went Republican by 2–1 in 1954.
  • 1960 Today 25 June 27
    Many a faithful servant goes completely unrecognised.
  • 1961 P. Marshall Soul clap Hands & Sing (1962) 23
    Mr. Watford..felt the tendons which strung him together suddenly go limp.
  • 1963 Sat. Evening Post 15 June 4/2
    Don't go too ‘arty’ on us.
  • 1966 New Yorker 1 Oct. 183 (advt.)
    Then I write my letter accusing them of going establishment.
  • 1969 H. A. Werner Iron Coffins i. 33
    The ocean went high, the wind swept hard.
  • 1988 Changing Times Dec. 107
    As much as $4 billion..goes unpaid each year.
  • 1996 Minx Nov. 143/3
    He went all James Dean on me.
  • 2001 C. Glazebrook Madolescents 54
    I hope she's not going all vegetarian on me.
  • 2001 J. Boyle Galloway Street 20
    His voice has gone quiet all of a sudden.
  • 2005 Evening Standard (Standard Lite ed.) 31 Aug. 23/3
    His girth suggested he has not gone hungry.
  • 2006 Edmonton (Alberta) Jrnl. (Nexis) 20 Jan. a6
    Part of the reason the riding bucked the provincial trend and went Liberal was because of the significant concentration of immigrants.
  • 2007 N. J. Smelser Faces of Terrorism iv. 114
    The media themselves do not wish to go unread, unheard, or unwatched.
  • '[D]on't go psychoanalytic' would seem to open the floodgates. 'Don't go mere'? Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 16:58
  • +1 (From yesterday). However, I'm pretty sure that a russet brown and James Dean are NPs not adjectives! Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 14:01

You can look at it from three different angles

The first-

Go is a Delexical verb, meaning -




(of a verb) having little or no meaning in its own right, for example take in take a photograph.

That is, it's a very "phrasy" verb.

here are just a few examples of how go is not to be taken literally

  • an attempt or try -he had a go at the stamp business (though a noun)
  • animal sounds - The cow goes moo.
  • to give access : LEAD That door goes to the cellar
  • to be in general or on an average cheap, as yachts go

examples (dictionary.com / Miriam Webster)

and so on... and so you could easily see why this verb might clad itself in different meanings.

The second -

Go might be considered sometimes as a Stative and or Dynamic verb (as all "sense" verbs are). Those are verbs that do not describe an action but rather a state (more similar in meaning to an adjective, though in a sentence structure they are the verb. easily noticeable for they can't be said in continuous tenses and they don't take an object(intransitive). as in one of the examples above - to give access : LEAD That door goes to the cellar. surely the door makes no such verb as to go, it simply describes the state of the door. All Stative Verbs belong to a bigger family called linking verbs,such as be,seem..., and therefore can and will be followed by an adjective(complement).

The third -

your example might simply be an elliptical sentences that originally used the phrase - go hand in hand with.

as in "That color goes hand in hand with your complexion." (looks)

go hand in hand Of two things, to accompany one another harmoniously. thefreedictionary.com

  • 1
    go is not delexical at all: This color goes with your outfit. go can mean many things. go can mean match. That is one of its lexical meanings. And a verb is either stative or dynamic.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 22:49
  • 2
    Go is delexical ->learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/… Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 22:58
  • 2
    dynamic means it's either Stative or Action verb. All dynamic verbs are stative verbs as well, not all stative verbs are dynamic. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 23:00
  • 1
    The British Council's examples there are for: go swimming,go walking, go shopping.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 23:07
  • 1
    i didn't say that his example is of the same delexical meaning as in The British Council's example. I merely pointed out that go is delexical, and that delexical verbs are very quirky. Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 20:29

The sensory verbs you are talking about in your examples are not exactly intransitive as stated in other answers, but copular

"Cheddar cheese tastes good" is a copular construction by the criteria described in the link above, because it is taking an adjective and assigning it as a property to the subject.

In you example, if "go" works the same way, as a copula, then we should be able to say "Cheddar cheese goes good", meaning, in some way, "Cheddar cheese is good". I don't think I have ever heard this usage.

If we don't accept "Cheddar cheese goes good" as a copular construction, "Cheddar cheese goes good with burgers" must be a different usage. As others have pointed out, "Cheddar cheese goes well with burgers" is also correct and has the same meaning. So we should conclude that in "Cheddar cheese goes good with burgers", "goes" is an intransitive verb and not a copula like the other "sense verbs" in your example, and "good" is actually an adverb. "Good" as an adverb is a real usage, but it is nonstandard, as other answers have pointed out.

  • I was thinking about that, but did not want to edit the question again and "bump" it. Thanks for your reply. That said, could you possibly edit to show some kind of support from an authoritative source? This site is a little picky about that Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 19:43


Ignoring the incorrect usage of 'good' in your examples, 'go' is not representing a sensory verb, rather it's a term of suitability. The full verb is to go well

To say that:

X goes [good/well] with Y.

Means X suits Y. They complement each other, work well together, or some other matching term. This can be sensory, if you are talking about looks or taste, but can also not be sensory. For example:

Bob and Shirley make a great couple. They balance each other's emotions and make up for each other's shortcomings. They go well together.

The above sentence has nothing to do with sensory perception, but still works.

  • 2
    In the first two examples, at least, the use of good is indeed correct. Consider: "that dog smells well; she found the drugs in a truckload of manure" and "that dog smells good; she just had a bath." Tasty food tastes good. Beautiful music sounds good. A person might look well if she or he appears to be healthy, because in that sense "well" is an adjective. But a person whose appearance is appealing because she or he is well dressed looks good.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 16:58
  • Complement.
    – miken32
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 19:09
  • @miken32 noted.
    – GreySage
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 19:12

I don't believe "go" is being used in your examples as a verb of the senses at all. The phrase being used is "go with", and it means the same as "pair with", or maybe "match" or "befit".

Understood this way, the phrase "goes good with" does not, uh, go good with standard rules of grammar.

  • 1
    Anyone care to give a reason for the downvotes?
    – Klay
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 12:23
  • Not a dver, in fact I just deleted my own -4dv answer which focused on how "good" is the wrong word. OP's complaint to mine was that it didn't addess his question, i.e. i wasn't telling him anything he didn't already know. I wasn't able to figure it out either, obviously. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 15:27
  • 1
    This answer does not answer the actual question.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 18:40
  • "Can Go substitute for some verbs of the senses, and so take an adjective rather than an adverb?" There's the question. I responded as I did because the question was based on a false assumption (i.e. that the verb "go" was being used as a verb of the senses in the examples provided). I felt that this response was more informative than a simple yes or no would have been.
    – Klay
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 16:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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