Is it possible and correct to use "well" with "to sound"? I am under the impression that most natives find it wrong. For example:

1 The guitar sounds good. - OK

2 The guitar sounds well. - Possible?

3 The sentence sounds good. - OK

4 The sentence sounds well. - Possible?

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    Uses grammar 'rules' of well and good are easily found with research.
    – lbf
    Oct 25, 2019 at 20:14
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    You are right. But they don't explain all the subtleties. According to the rule "well" modifies a verb which makes sentence 2 and 4 correct. But in practice, people cringe on hearing them. Go figure.
    – user1425
    Oct 25, 2019 at 20:17
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    @user1425 It's a different meaning of the verb sound, used in whaling. That one takes an adverb to describe the diving. Sense verbs take adjectives like any other so-called linking verb (a bad term but oh well) because they describe the subject not the verb.
    – tchrist
    Oct 25, 2019 at 20:40
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    I'd like to persuade you that this is not quite the same question as the Discrepancy in using adjective or adverb with “taste” one. I think I can demonstrate a perfectly good usage of 'sounds well'. I'm a bit inexperienced in such things but is it possible to re-open this question so that I can post an answer? Thanks Oct 26, 2019 at 2:53
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    Absolutely agree with you on that!
    – user1425
    Oct 26, 2019 at 4:00

1 Answer 1


It sounds good/great is and idiomatic expression:

used for telling someone that their idea or suggestion seems like a good one.

  • ‘How about dinner and a film tonight?’ ‘Sounds great.’

(MacMillan Dictionary)

  • No, it's not an idiomatic expression. Sense verbs take predicate adjectives describing the subject.
    – tchrist
    Oct 25, 2019 at 20:37

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