'I speak good English' or 'I speak English well'?

This is a discussion thread · 23 replies
1 2 3
MS:
A Sunday pub lunch disagreement needs resolving. A friend stated that 'I speak good English' is actally not good English at all and that 'I speak English well' is the correct way of saying it. Is she correct and, if so, why?

Many thanks and regards, etc.,
MS
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Einde O'Callaghan:
[nq:1]A Sunday pub lunch disagreement needs resolving. A friend stated that 'I speak good English' is actally not good English at all and that 'I speak English well' is the correct way of saying it. Is she correct and, if so, why?[/nq]
I have no great problem with either grammatically, but I think people would usually use these constructions to speak of other people and not of themselves, e.g. "You speak good English" or "You speak English well".

Regards, Einde O'Callaghan
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
MS:
Einde O'Callaghan emailed this:
[nq:2]A Sunday pub lunch disagreement needs resolving. A friend stated ... of saying it. Is she correct and, if so, why?[/nq]
[nq:1]I have no great problem with either grammatically, but I think people would usually use these constructions to speak of other people and not of themselves, e.g. "You speak good English" or "You speak English well".[/nq]
How would you say this about yourself?
MS
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
John Briggs:
[nq:1]A Sunday pub lunch disagreement needs resolving. A friend stated that 'I speak good English' is actally not good English at all and that 'I speak English well' is the correct way of saying it. Is she correct and, if so, why?[/nq]
'I speak English good' is not good English, but neither can 'I speak English well' be described as well English.

John Briggs
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
John of Aix:
[nq:1]A Sunday pub lunch disagreement needs resolving. A friend stated that 'I speak good English' is actally not good English at all and that 'I speak English well' is the correct way of saying it. Is she correct and, if so, why?[/nq]
I would say that the latter is a little bit more formal. The first is a little bit funny to my ear, even, though it is perfectly correct and I might well say it, but probably I'd avoid the mental difficulty by saying "I speak excellent English." I don't really know why, it just feels better.
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Einde O'Callaghan:
[nq:1]Einde O'Callaghan emailed this:[/nq]
[nq:2]I have no great problem with either grammatically, but I ... e.g. "You speak good English" or "You speak English well".[/nq]
[nq:1]How would you say this about yourself?[/nq]
For a start I'd be a bit more modest - I'd probably say something like "I think my English (or French, or German, or whatever) is quite good".

Regards, Einde O'Callaghan
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Tony Mountifield:
[nq:1]A Sunday pub lunch disagreement needs resolving. A friend stated that 'I speak good English' is actally not good English at all and that 'I speak English well' is the correct way of saying it. Is she correct and, if so, why?[/nq]
To me, there is a slight difference of meaning between the two.

In "I speak good English", "good" is an adjective denoting the quality of the English being spoken.
In "I speak English well", "well" is an adverb denoting the skill of the speaker at speaking English.
Ok, it's a subtle distinction. :-)
Is it possible to speak good English badly or bad English well?

Cheers
Tony

Tony Mountifield
Work: (Email Removed) - http://www.softins.co.uk Play: (Email Removed) - http://tony.mountifield.org
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Aelfrith:
I way always told English is either correct or incorrect, it can't be good or bad, well or ill.
Neil Jones
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Mike Stevens:
[nq:1]I way always told English is either correct or incorrect, it can't be good or bad, well or ill.[/nq]
To my way of looking at things, you have been misinformed. There has been a tendency in English since about the middle 18th Century to try to define "correct" English. However, the language changes (thank goodness) faster than the pedants can keep up with. There are formal rules of grammar that are usually regarded as fixed, but good writers can sometimes ignore these for effect.

"Full fathom five the father lies,
Of his bones are coral made."
Here he links a plural verb "are" with a singluar (some would say uncountable) subject "coral". Most people would say that this is gramatically incorrect, but it would take a very brave person to suggest it wasn't good English!
Now don't start me on the subject of spelling or I'll quoste Shakespeare/Shakspear/Shagsberd (all his own spelling, I believe) at you again.

Mike Stevens
narrowboat Felis Catus III
web site www.mike-stevens.co.uk
No man is an island. So is Man.
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Show more
Live chat
Registered users can join here