And what was this issue? She had been confronted with the following problem:
- The food tastes _____ (good, well).
What can "the food tastes well" possibly mean? Well is a modifier that usually occurs with verbs and describes the manner in which whatever the verb represents is carried out:
- Steve Martin plays the banjo very well.
This particular problem grows out of the fact that, in spoken English, "adjective" and "adverb" are not well-defined lexical categories. Of course, in standard written English, good is an adjective, and well is usually, but not always (in "I am well" well is an adjective somewhat synonymous with healthy), an adverb. But this distinction exists mostly in the minds of language mavens, not in the minds of native English speakers. I told the student that no native speaker of English would say "the food tastes well," unless they were victims of the kind of linguistic terrorism practiced by language arts and college composition teachers with no knowledge of linguistics. "The food tastes good" is what you say if you want to comment on the quality of the food.
In other words: If somehow I lose my sense of taste, I might be able to say that I can no longer taste well. It will be up to the cannibals to decide whether I taste good or not.