Never Say ‘Good’

It’s easy to settle into a comfortable way of speaking or writing by using the same words or expressions over and over again.  While this in natural, in the classroom we want learners to expand their vocabulary.  One way to do this is by restricting some of those commonly-used words.

I do this with a few words, but my favorite is good.  If students can’t use good, they’ll have to think of some other word to use instead.

The problem with good is that it’s too generic.  It’s over-used.  And often when it is used, it doesn’t give us a sense of what the speaker/writer really means, because its definition is so broad.  Thankfully, good has plenty of synonyms that are more specific in meanings:

    • acceptable / satisfactory
    • beneficial / helpful / advantageous
    • convenient
    • positive
    • delightful / pleasant
    • worthwhile / valuable
    • strong
    • skilled / talented
    • sufficient
    • noteworthy / remarkable
    • exceptional / outstanding
    • complete
    • appropriate / suitable
    • operational / viable
    • supportive
    • fortunate / serendipitous
    • timely
    • productive
    • great / superb / excellent
    • and more …

Naturally, the word students should use depends on the context.  But choosing one of these words will tell the reader/listener a lot more about the topic than just good.  By the way, the only time I’ll accept good from my more advanced students is when they’re talking about ‘good vs. evil’ or in expressions such as “good afternoon”.

I find this technique is beneficial for writing essays in test preparation; lots of graders will look for varied vocabulary in the essay portion of a test, and using multiple synonyms for good is a practical way to accomplish that.

What are some words you can think of that are common, are generic, and have plenty of synonyms?

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