Dear People Who Correct Those Who Say, “I’m Good,” Stop it. You’re Wrong.

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Okay, this seriously needs to end.

To the people who ask how someone is doing, only to immediate attack the, “I’m good,” response — to the people who dust off their pseudo-grammarian caps and go, “Don’t you mean I’m well?” – I have only one thing to say:

Cut it out. Because you’re wrong.

Let’s break it down: “good” is an adjective. Which is good. Very good. Without it, Goodyear would be Pleasantyear, and that just sounds awkward.

However, “good” is not an adverb. Which is why saying, “We want to do good on the exam,” is grammatically incorrect. We use “well” instead, because “well” can be used as an adverb.

For example: “We need to do well on the exam so we can get a good grade in the class.”

Now, let’s get back to that “I’m good,” statement. You asked how that person was that day. Since you were so busy patting yourself on the back about correcting your friend’s grammar, you probably didn’t notice that, by asking, “How are you,” you were asking about their state of being. So when that person said, “I’m good,” they were letting you know that their state of being is good.

And “state of being”, while a fun, abstract concept that can send any philosopher and psychologist into a lifetime of research and debate, is — for all intents and purposes — a noun (we can get into the nitty-gritty of nominal phrases on another day). 

And what do we use to describe nouns? Adjectives.

Crazy idea, I know! “Good” is not an adverb, and yet we can still use it as an adjective. Someone alert the presses, because this news is going to rock the modern world as we know it.

Think of it this way: “goodly”, while a horribly outdated word, is still grammatically correct. It can also be used as an adjective, but that’s a convoluted tale for another time. Imagine how ridiculous you would sound if you corrected a friend’s grammar by saying, “Don’t you mean, ‘I’m goodly’???” 

You could say, “I’m doing goodly” and be grammatically correct, although you’ll definitely get a few looks from the people listening to you. By the same token, “I’m doing good,” is grammatically incorrect, unless you are trying to say that you are doing good deeds and just got lazy by the end of the sentence.

However, this is not to say that, “I’m well,” is incorrect. It just means, “I’m the opposite of sick,” in this instance. And – hey — sometimes people really want to let you know that you won’t die of the plague by being around them.

That’s good info to know.

But, all joking aside, let’s get to the meat of why you are correcting your friend’s grammar — and correcting it incorrectly, no less: you are taking a usually-innocuous set of pleasantries as a chance to prove how “intelligent” you are.

You’re not hoping to educate them on an important matter. You’re not hoping to help them sound smarter; you’re hoping to show them that you know something that they don’t. And, to top it off, you didn’t even take the time to go on Google for 10 seconds to make sure you were correct. You were too busy congratulating yourself for being “smart” to actually look into the matter in the first place.

And regardless: unless you’re part of the Totalitarian Grammar Society and your club is having a cocktail party, there’s no reason to be correcting anyone’s grammar in day-to-day conversations. Who cares if your friend or family member responded with, “I’m good,” or “I’m doing good,” or “I’m a goodly-good-good-doer with good on the goodly mind!” 

Okay, that last one might be a sign that they’re due for an evaluation. But aside from that, there is genuinely no reason to nitpick. Unless you’re proofreading someone’s work or helping someone write a cover letter, it’s mean-spirited to interrupt the flow of a conversation to “correct” someone. I don’t care how good (or well/not sick) your intentions were; if you’re willing to do that to someone you know — or worse, to someone you just met — then, on some level, you consider yourself superior to them (or at least wish you were superior to them in some way). The fact that you are incorrect in your correction just makes it that much worse.

So try it: next time you ask someone how they are, just listen. Even if, “I’m good,” is just another insipid line in an arbitrary script that lets other people know that they are social creatures, too. Listen to them when they say, “I’m good,” respond back if they ask how you are doing, and — crazy concept, I know — enjoy their conversation and company.

Because, seriously, the next person who tries to “correct” my grammar is getting the boot. Or, since summer is finally here, the flip-flop. TC mark

Like this post? For more lessons learned about the modeling world, check out Abby’s Thought Catalog Book here.

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