“Overcorrecting” is a useful term if you want to be a professional writer. It’s possible to try so hard to be correct that you make a mistake instead.
Here’s an example of overcorrecting that I hear all the time: “Donna invited Harry and I for dinner.”
Nope! Think: Donna invited me for dinner. The sentence doesn’t change if you make it longer:
Donna invited Harry and me for dinner. CORRECT
(Did you notice that you don’t need a ton of grammar to get this right? Just make the sentence shorter. Works every time!)
Today I’m going to talk about another example of overcorrecting. Recently someone online insisted that “You look well” is more professional than “You look good.”
No, it isn’t. In fact it’s wrong (unless you’re talking to someone who’s recovering from an illness).
Well sounds fancy because it’s an adverb. Good sounds…ordinary.
But you can’t throw adverbs around willy-nilly just because you want to sound posh. That’s why “You look well” is wrong.
The good news is that you already know this – even if you don’t give a damn about gobbledygook like adverbs and adjectives.
Doubt me? Read these sentences:
Jane, you look happily today!
I felt sadly when I heard that the Browns are moving.
Your plans for your trip to San Francisco sound wonderfully.
They sound silly, don’t they? “I feel,” “You look,” and “That sounds” require adjectives. Happily, sadly, wonderfully (and well) are adverbs. (If you don’t want to go there, just think about using simple words, and you’ll be fine.)
These sentences are correct:
Jane, you look happy today!
I felt sad when I heard that the Browns are moving.
Your plans for your trip to San Francisco sound wonderful.
And – of course – “You look good!” (But if someone has been sick recently, it’s fine to say “You look well.”)