You Look Well or You Look Good?

You? Why for you, both are correct!


Seriously though, are both of these correct? Do they have the same meaning?

The answers are Yes, and, Basically, yes, but with a but.

(If you want to save yourself some time, generally if one of my titles is asking which word or phrase out of two is correct, like this one, you can safely assume that both are correct. But… with a but. And that but is always the interesting part).

OK, you may remember yesterday I’d promised I’d get to the bottom of using well as an adjective or an adverb. Shortly after that bold promise, I thought, Yes, like that time I looked at I feel bad and I feel badly.

And then today, as I was about to start writing, I thought to myself, Surely I covered feeling good and feeling well in that post too, which would make this one redundant.

So I looked that one up, reread it, and discovered that indeed I had explained feeling good/well in that, and in an interesting and succint manner too. So if you’re curious about whether there’s a difference between feeling good and feeling well, just go read that one. I enjoyed it, and I expect you will too. Here, I’ll link to it again.

For those of you who are still here, I suppose we could look at the difference between looking good and looking well, if you’re up for it. They are strictly different (though both are pretty much the same too). You’re looking good is pretty simple: you’re saying that someone’s appearance is appealing to you. You’re looking well, like feeling well, can mean that someone looks like they’re in good health.

If you’re looking for a simple distinction, that should satisfy you.

Thinking about it though, there’s often a little more subtlety to it than that. Saying someone’s looking well is often like a safer way of saying somone looks good. Imagine someone you know who’s not particularly attractive, and doesn’t usually dress stylishly. One day, you meet them in a suit, and with their hair combed, generally looking pretty tidied up. In this case, saying they’re looking good might be a tad strong. They still have the uncomfortable look of someone who doesn’t normally dress up, and perhaps the suit isn’t perfect and their hair is still a little messy.

So you say they’re looking well. It clearly shows you appreciate the improvement, but you’re not going overboard by saying they look amazing. Plus, saying someone looks good can have a romantic or sexual connotation, and you don’t want to give them this impression. Not them. So pretty much the same as looking good. Just safer.

So there you have it. Not a big difference, but pretty interesting all the same. I could’ve included this in that older post, but then what would I have written today? Anyway, it was nice to see you. Did I mention that you’re looking well?

10 thoughts on “You Look Well or You Look Good?

  1. In this neck of the woods, pleasing music can be described as “sounding well” in much the same way: it sounded good last time but it has improved.

    Liked by 1 person

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