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ESL forum > Ask for help > I am pretty good. (Am I feeling well or not??)    

I am pretty good. (Am I feeling well or not??)


I am pretty good. (Am I feeling well or not??)
When I was learning the answers for "How are you?" I have learned "I am pretty good" with the same meaning of "I am very well." That time I was a student of a Bristish teacher. Later, one American teacher told me that "I am pretty good" is the same "I am Ok" that refers to = not well, not bad. Do you know something about this??? 

25 Jun 2009      

United States

There is a British/American English dialect specialist but she won īt be on till later and hopefully she catches this.
"I am pretty good."  In America is basically saying "I am OK" but can also mean a little better than OK or "I am very well."  It depends on how it is being used and the region you are in.  As you know America is a huge country with many cultures mixed in so different regions on same words may have slight differences or even totally different words for the same item.  This phrase is a common phrase and most will understand without further explanations after answering with that phrase.

25 Jun 2009     


^^ Very true, but it also depends on how you say it too!  If you say "I am pretty good" quietly and without smiling then maybe people will think you are just OK or having a bad day, but if you say "I am pretty good" with a strong voice and a smile, then its the same as saying "I īm great".

25 Jun 2009     

Hong Kong

"I am okay." is a medium response when the person is not in high spirits.  "I am great." is a happier/ more content feeling.  In England, "I am not well" means to be ill.  So, to equate okay with not well is not accurate.  You can be okay without being ill.  I teach many responses to this question: I am fine. I īm great. I īm not bad. I īm alive. I īm here. I am functioning under proper parameters. I am faring sumptuously. (Shakespeare)  It all depends upon the mood of the person being asked.  In a lot of ways this is trite and meaningless.  The asker is often not interested in the other īs condition but rather doesn īt know what else to say.  I like "How īs it going?" 

25 Jun 2009     

United States

Danbarazani explained it pretty well--in this case the intonation is important to determine the meaning.

25 Jun 2009     


Where I come from:
How are you? could be answered:
Pretty good = not bad, you are quite well, but not being very enthusiastic, slightly better than OK  
This is the more common way of using pretty good.
Pret-ty good (sounding enthusiastic) =  you are well, and things are going your way at the moment
(I tried to show the different way of saying pretty, more emphasis on both syllables and a slight separation)

25 Jun 2009     

United States

Usually that question is rhetorical.
You wouldn īt meet someone at a party and say, hi, how are you and expect that they start talking about their latest surgery and other things.
That is not the time or place, therefore when you say not bad, it can also be an answer that means alright but now is not the time to go into details.

It also depends on how you say it.  My dad often answered, Not bad, not bad at all - which meant everything was just fine.

25 Jun 2009