English is a tricky language. It borrows words from other languages, has a complex structure, and uses some pretty strange rules that non-native speakers (and native speakers) struggle with.

If you’re torn up about word choice, use this quick guide to discern which one to use. Not only will you get your point across clearly, you’ll sound smart, too.

Good vs. Well – Good is an adjective. Well is an adverb. Don’t take it from James Brown; he feels good, but not in the way he says. Good means moral or right, while well indicates health and/or happiness. “I feel well” just isn’t as catchy in a song.

Less vs. Fewer – Fewer indicates a quantity you can count. Less indicates a quantity you can’t count. You may want fewer Brussels sprouts on your plate. Perhaps you dread the fact that winter means less daylight.

Which vs. What – Use which when you have a limited number of things to choose from. Use what when that number is infinite (or too large to count). You may ask, “What is your favorite book?” The answer may depend on which specific genre you’re talking about.

Bad vs. Badly – Bad is an adjective. Badly is an adverb. The Joker is bad guy who does bad things. If you hit your head and developed a concussion, you’re just doing badly.

Hanged vs. Hung – Unless you’re talking about an execution with a rope, use hung. The convict was hanged for his crimes. You hung the wanted posters.

Further vs. Farther – In the US, farther generally refers to physical distances. Further usually refers to figurative and nonphysical distances. Sadly, the end of the school year is further away than you thought. Even worse—the cafeteria is farther from your class this year.

Between vs. Among – Use between when two people or things share something. Use among when more than two people or things share something. You’re among friends at a birthday party, but between us two, the cake wasn’t really that great.


“Grammar Guide” by Jenny Patton