General Question

b's avatar

Is "Grow Good" grammatically correct?

Asked by b (1863points) September 25th, 2013

I am having a discussion with some colleagues over the sentence: “Let’s grow good, together.” I don’t think its grammatically correct but honestly am a little weak when it comes to grammar. Am I wrong?

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41 Answers

b's avatar

That is what I thought, or grow better. Do you have any other thoughts on why “good” does not belong?

Coloma's avatar

Only if it were to be the name of a fertilizer. haha

Jeruba's avatar

“Let’s grow” wants either a noun as object—the thing being grown (a plant or crop)—or an adverb that says how the growing is to be done. “Good” is not an adverb and doesn’t make much sense here as a noun. Its usual role is as an adjective.

If you were using “good” as a noun (as in “to do good”) and the noun referred to something that could be planted, cultivated, and raised like corn or beans, then it would make literal sense. But “good” is not an agricultural crop and is not usually thought of as one. Is “good” being used metaphorically as a thing that can be grown?

To me it’s a little too far from sense to be a good slogan in any case. The comma isn’t helpful either. It just keeps it from being a little worse (i.e., from being read as “let’s become nicely conjoined”).

The whole thing is a little off and should be rethought. It’s best not to have a slogan that constantly has to be explained.

Maybe your colleagues should concentrate first on what message they wish to convey and only then refine it into a brief expression. Trying to come up with a catchy phrase without regard to substance or sense is likely to produce something ambiguous or meaningless or worse.

morphail's avatar

Adverbial good is found mainly in speech. To me “let’s grow good” sounds informal, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that.

MWDEU quotes Bolinger: ”good has become emotionally charged, well is colorless. He treats me good expresses more appreciation than He treats me well, and She scolded him, but good can hardly be expressed with well at all”

ragingloli's avatar

What if good refers to the end stage and not the process of growing?

Jeruba's avatar

Then it would be functioning as a noun, @ragingloli—a substantive adjective, if that term is still in use. I discussed that. Parallel notions might be “Let’s grow virtue,” “Let’s grow beauty,” and “Let’s grow responsibility.” But what does it mean?

ragingloli's avatar

@Jeruba
Why it would not be used as an adjective in that role, as in “let’s grow big”?

Jeruba's avatar

Because an adjective can’t be the object of a verb.

Wait—are you suggesting that “grow” is being used here in the sense of “become”? That’s possible. But then the whole thing is a little strained. It is ambiguous. It will require constant explanation. It’s a poor slogan.

CWOTUS's avatar

It depends on whether the verb “grow” is used transitively or intransitively.

“Let’s grow” can mean “let us grow [ourselves]”, intransitively. In that sense “Let’s grow good,” is ungrammatical, since the adverb to modify “how we grow” should be “well” and not “good”.

However, it is possible, I think, to “grow [the] good”, using “grow” as a transitive verb (and “good” as a noun), even if the construction is unusual and maybe a little awkward. For comparison, “Be well” means ”[You] be healthy”, but “Be good” means ”[You] be a good person”. Those are not at all unusual or awkward uses.

So on that basis, “Let’s grow good” as a way of saying “Let us grow goodness” is not bad at all, as @ragingloli suggests. I don’t particularly like it, because it is going to appear incorrect to most literate English speakers, but it could be correct in this sense, at least. Still awkward.

Jeruba's avatar

@CWOTUS, the latter is the noun use that I commented on above.

fightfightfight's avatar

Let’s grow well together.

CWOTUS's avatar

Yes, I saw your comment later, @Jeruba. Sometimes I read these threads from the bottom up, and sometimes both ways from the middle. More often I don’t read a lot of them at all.

ragingloli's avatar

@Jeruba
That is indeed what I am suggesting.

morphail's avatar

@ragingloli big in let’s grow big is a predicative complement in the form of an adjective. It’s the same structure as my beard grew/turned black, I grew bald etc. I think? In other words grow is a “linking verb” here.

b's avatar

Thanks for your great answers everyone. I believe “good” is intended to be used as a noun in the slogan. So basically it will kind of work if you dig deep enough and make some assumptions to the purpose of the statement. Unfortunately it takes some extra explanation of the intended meaning for the slogan to be clear.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, then, @b (may I call you @b),? the answer to your question is yes, it’s grammatically correct, once you explain it so that it is grammatically correct.

Unfortunately, I don’t think people are likely to say “I’m assuming that this is grammatically correct, in which case ‘good’ must be a noun and hence it means ‘let’s grow goodness’.” They’re more likely to say either “That’s a weird slogan. Don’t they mean ‘well’? It must not be grammatically correct.” or just “What does that mean?”

augustlan's avatar

If it’s a slogan, how about “Grow the greater good.”

Strauss's avatar

My family and I grow good vegetables in our garden!

ucme's avatar

Why not simply say “let’s grow together?”
In the sense that you improve/flourish as one, a unit or a bond.

gambitking's avatar

If you’re saying that “good” is the noun and grow being the verb, then yeah it’s okay although a bit clunky.As in you mean to say you are growing the concept of good.

But if “good” is the adjective that describes how you want to grow, then no it’s wrong. As others have pointed out, that would be “well” instead.

dabbler's avatar

Whether it’s intended that ‘good’ is a noun that is grown by the group or ‘good’ is intended as an adverb that technically should be ‘well’, in both cases it’s a dumberized/moronificated/stupider version of whatever was meant and makes whoever uses the phrase look like a street dork.

@b You are correct it is not good grammar.

It will get noticed, either as bad grammer, or as cool if the group has an intellectual standard that resonates with the movie Idiocracy. If the latter, I’d rather not grow anything with them except maybe a community garden.

Sunny2's avatar

I can imagine 2 or 3 people talking about their failure to be as good individuals as they would wish to be.. They decide they will work on that aspect and work on growing into better people. Might they not say, “Let’s grow good, together?” Is it still wrong grammatically? Grow well wouldn’t be correct. It might be if they were all sick, but that’s not the situation. I’m just trying to be a troublemaker.

dabbler's avatar

@Sunny2 Good => better => best.

Let’s grow better, together.
or maybe
Let’s grow our goodness, together.

Sunny2's avatar

^^ Okay. I’m going to grow gooder. maybe

b's avatar

@Jeruba Of course you can call me b. This is the same conversation I had with my co-workers. It is pretty awkward worded and seems to be missing something. Unfortunately it is already the new tagline of our company and is being printed on our new business cards…

Jeruba's avatar

Well, @b, that’s too bad. I’d have to say that whatever points @dabbler‘s remark might have lost on diplomacy it makes up on aptness.

glacial's avatar

I agree with @Jeruba‘s comments: ” I don’t think people are likely to say “I’m assuming that this is grammatically correct, in which case ‘good’ must be a noun and hence it means ‘let’s grow goodness’.” They’re more likely to say either “That’s a weird slogan. Don’t they mean ‘well’? It must not be grammatically correct.” or just “What does that mean?”

To be honest, even if some money has been spent on printing up those business cards, it would probably cost you less to throw them out and start over on the name than it would to try to drum up business using a slogan that makes the company sound incompetent. The tagline would prevent me from even considering doing business with you.

LostInParadise's avatar

I am having trouble understanding the meaning of the slogan. Good either refers to the process of growing or it refers to some desired end state. I am assuming the second, since the first possibility seems a bit silly for a slogan. This second possibility is a bit problematic.. It implies that you are not good now, but if you grow enough then that growth process will somehow make you good. Do you plan to rid yourselves of evil or incompetence by sufficient growth?

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m sure if someone had asked the collective about a certain other (now world-famous) slogan, then Nike would still be looking for a slogan or catchphrase:

What do you mean “Just do it”? Weren’t you doing anything before?

Do you mean “do just that and nothing else”? Well, surely you will starve, then! Maybe what you really want is “Do some things.”

Don’t you mean “justly”? Because otherwise you’re implying lawlessness and selfishness. And then you’d want to say “Do it justly.”

“Do it” sounds sexual. Do you want to be perceived in this light? Why not “Do something” instead?

It sounds too imperative. Maybe you should word it as a strong suggestion instead, or a recommendation, like “Maybe you should do it”.

“Grow good” is fine. Just do it.

mattbrowne's avatar

In slang it seems that more and more adjectives are used as adverbs. A trend?

Strauss's avatar

I think it is a trend because grammatical expectations seem to be lower in general.

morphail's avatar

@mattbrowne @Yetanotheruser good has been an adverb since the 13th century.

mattbrowne's avatar

Wow, that long! Thanks.

morphail's avatar

Lat your fadres treson goon
Forth with mischaunce, and ye your-self, in Ioye,
Dwelleth with us, whyl you good list, in Troye.

(Let your father’s treason go
with all mischance: and you yourself in joy
live with us, while you wish good [as long as you like], in Troy.)

Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde book 1

Strauss's avatar

@morphail
while you wish good

While I am not as knowledgeable about Middle English as I am Modern and Contemporary English, I believe the “good” in the aforementioned quote is actually a noun, the object of the verb “wish”, rather than an adverb modifying that verb.

But Lurve to you for Chaucer!

morphail's avatar

@Yetanotheruser it’s an adverb, according to the MED

LostInParadise's avatar

If good is an adverb in the expression grow good, so that it would mean roughly the same as grow well, what exactly does that mean? If you grow well, does that mean that no part grows at a disproportionate rate to the rest? For a company, would it mean that it is able to continue to meet demand for its product as it grows? These make for odd things to make a slogan out of.

Strauss's avatar

@morphail I’ll concede that point. Evidently, usage has evolved since Chaucer’s day, because Merriam-Webster has good listed first as an adjective, then as a noun. It is also listed third as an adverb, but its usage in that manner has been controversial for centuries, and seems to be used more in spoken or informal speech.

“Adverbial good has been under attack from the schoolroom since the 19th century. Insistence on well rather than good has resulted in a split in connotation: well is standard, neutral, and colorless, while good is emotionally charged and emphatic. This makes good the adverb of choice in sports <“I’m seeing the ball real good ” is what you hear — Roger Angell>. In such contexts as <listen up. And listen good — Alex Karras> <lets fly with his tomatoes before they can flee. He gets Clarence good — Charles Dickinson> good cannot be adequately replaced by well. Adverbial good is primarily a spoken form; in writing it occurs in reported and fictional speech and in generally familiar or informal contexts. Merriam-Webster Online

morphail's avatar

@Yetanotheruser That’s basically what I wrote in my first comment.

flo's avatar

Let’s grow well. You have good intinct @b.

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