All Well and Good

A red, vertical sign in a city that reads "GOOD"
Photo by Carson Masterson on Unsplash

According to the internet, “all is well” is correct while “all is good” is incorrect. I get that, while normally an adverb, well does have an adjectival use. It can mean good. So, “all is well” can mean that all is good. What I don’t understand is how “all is good” can be wrong. The internet must have made a mistake.

The reason I bring this up is because using well as an adjective has always bothered me. I get a little stab of annoyance whenever I hear someone say, “I am well.” For whatever reason, I find it difficult to hear well as anything other than an adverb. To my ears, it sounds like they are saying that they are doing a good job of aming (or is it amming?). Likewise, “I don’t feel well,” sounds like they are having trouble with their sense of touch.

The reason it bothers me is contained in that first paragraph. Well as an adjective means good. Why not cut to the chase and just use good? Using well as an adjective is like using a screwdriver as a hammer. It can work, but given the choice always use the hammer.

Good is a great word, despite what how-to-write guides will try to tell you. It’s short, simple, and easily understood. It’s somehow acquired a lower-class vibe, though. People think it’s basic.

Well is also a fine word, but it has to learn to stay in its lane. It’s a little snooty in some of its usages.

We good?

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