Grammar Menu
Choosing Words Correctly

This page was composed by a credentialed teacher in California who loves Jesus. "The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 1:14

Common Errors:

Directions: Move the arrow over or touch each highlighted word or segment and look for a definition or explanation in the box.
Note: Quotes with Jesus speaking are referenced in red.

Choosing Words Correctly (an adjective or an adverb)

Choosing Bad or Badly:

Like most adverbs, badly ends in ly.

An adverb is used to modify action verbs.
"The U.S. soccer team played very badly."
The action verb in the above sentence is "played," and the adverb "badly" tells how the team played.

...I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly. Genesis 50:17.

Bad is an adjective. It is used after forms of the verb be and other linking verbs, such as become, seem, appear, and feel when feel acts as a linking verb.
A linking verb serves to connect a descriptive word to its subject:

Incorrect: I feel badly for her.
Here, feel is used as a state of being or linking verb which requires being followed by an adjective such as "bad."
There is no action indicated, here, in this sentence. Using "feel" as an action verb would indicate the use of hands.
Correct: I feel bad for her.

Incorrect: I did bad on the test (did is an action verb, so you need an adverb after it).
Correct: I did badly on the test.
Note: This sounds a bit awkward when spoken, so it's better to say: I did poorly on the test, or I didn't do well on the test.

Choosing Good or Well:

When speaking of health, either of the following are correct:

I feel good.
I feel well.

When not speaking of health, well functions as an adverb, and good functions as an adjective.

Correct: I did well on the test.

Incorrect: I did good on the test.

An adverb describes the action, so use it with an action verb.

She speaks English ______.
Which is correct: well or good?
Correct: She speaks English well.

Incorrect: He sings good. (Sings is an action verb).
Correct: He sings well.

In speech and in writing, practice using well after action verbs.


When not speaking of health, well functions as an adverb:

Act with courage, and may the LORD be with those who do well." 2 Chronicles 19:11

Good functions as an adjective:

"The word of the LORD you have spoken is good," Hezekiah replied. Isaiah 39:8
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16.

Choosing Sure or Surely:

Sure is an adjective, and surely is an adverb.
Here are some examples that show different uses of sure and surely .

In the following quote from the Bible, sure is an adjective that follows a linking or state of being verb.

"...the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." (Psalm Chapter 19, Verse 7).

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, " Surely this man was the Son of God!" Mark 15:39.

Choosing Real or Really:

Real is an adjective, and really is an adverb.

Here are some examples that show the difference between real and really :

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

An adverb can modify or tell more about an adverb, too.
For example, "I did really well on the test." "Well" is an adverb modifying the verb "did," and "really" is another adverb modifying the adverb "well."

I had some real problems before I came to know Jesus.

In the above example, had is a state of being verb. Some and real are adjectives modifying the noun problems.

Choosing Most or Almost:

Almost is always an adverb meaning nearly.

Correct: Almost everyone agreed.
Informally correct: Most everyone agreed.

Correct: Almost all the people came.
Informally correct: Most all the people came.

Choosing Broke or Broken:

Broke is the past tense of break.

Broken is an adjective.

Correct: The microwave is broken.
Incorrect: The microwave is broke.


Correct: "You look good" or "You smell good." (compliments)
In these examples, look and smell are stative verbs, not action verbs, so they are used with the adjective good.

Incorrect: Speak plain, and you will be understood.
The action verb is speak. Action verbs are modified by adverbs.
Correct: Speak plainly, and you will be understood.

The job was done so careful that there were no mistakes.
Is the word careful used correctly here? What kind of verb is used?
You can remove some words to reveal the error: The job was done careful.
How was the job done?
Correct:The job was done carefully.

Bible Verse of the Day

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