I looked here to find the difference in meanings between "looks good" and "looks well". I was wondering whether you could replace the "looks" with any other verb like "reads", i.e. "reads good to me" when referring to a text.

Edit: I think I need to give an example to make it clearer.

Somebody shows me their essay. To complement it, I say "this reads good to me" (in an attempt to say something analogous to "this looks good to me").

The description about sense verbs in the comments clarified it, though.

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    It's a hair informal, but it would be easily understood. (Though the nuances you were implying might be unclear.)
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 25, 2020 at 21:40
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    No, they're not related. Look is a sense verb, and in this construction it has the sensory input (the book) as subject, and an adjective good as complement. But that construction is specific to sense verbs. Read is a different kind of verb altogether, and can only appear with the book as its subject in the Middle Alternation, which normally uses an adverb (not an adjective): This book reads well, The car drives poorly, Vodka sells well. Not the same thing at all. Mar 25, 2020 at 23:16

2 Answers 2


I do not think the meaning carries over to other verbs.
If I heard the sentence "She looks good." I would assume the speaker meant that she appears attractive. If I heard the sentence "She looks well." I would assume that the speaker meant that she does not appear ill.

If you consider the verb "read". The sentence "He reads well." is understandable and unambiguous. However the sentence "He reads good." would grate on my ears.


“The book reads well”

In this sentence the verb is in the “Middle Voice”. The “Middle Voice[1]” is halfway between the active and passive. “The book reads well” = The book can be (or is) read (past participle) pleasantly/easily/enjoyably [by anyone.]

In “The book reads well”, you will note that

1 The book, although it appears to be the subject, is not doing any “reading”

2 The verb “to read” does not have an object: it has a complement “well”, which is an adverb.

3 In this case “well” = pleasantly/easily/enjoyably.

You cannot say “The book reads good” because “good” is not an adverb: “He jumped good” is wrong.

[1]Have a look at https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/143683-The-book-reads-well-or-How-to-recognize-the-Active-and-the-Passive which gives examples of the Middle Voice/

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