Being good about doing something

What do you think of the construction "good about something"?

  • I'm American, and it sounds wrong to me. Never heard it.

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • I'm British, and it sounds wrong to me. Never heard it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm from somewhere else, and it sounds wrong to me. Never heard it.

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • I'm American, and have heard it before, but I don't like it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm British, and have heard it before, but I don't like it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm from somewhere else, and have heard it before, but I don't like it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm American, and it sounds normal to me.

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • I'm British, and it sounds normal to me.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm from somewhere else, and it sounds normal to me.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm unsure.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    5

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I always say "good at doing something". Now I just came across this sentence, by a (usually competent) native speaker of American English, where she says "good about doing something". I'm not sure I've seen or heard this construction before. Is it correct? Is it common? Is it a specifically AE thing? Or a regional thing?

"Susan is really good about checking in often and keeping up with that."
 

LCF

One of "those" people
I was not born speaking AE but lived here most of my life. With this said.

"Susan is really good about checking in" sounds good.
"Susan is really good at checking in" sounds good.
"Susan is really good about playing basketball" sounds weird.
"Susan is really good at playing basketball" sounds good.
"Suzan is really good about coming to work on time" sounds good
"Suzan is really good at coming to work on time" kinda ok... but different from above
"Suzan is really good about drinking" sounds wrong
"Suzan is really good at computers" sounds good
"Suzan is really good about computers" weird but I would not object much (but weird... sounds British to me...)

...
It depends on the verb.

good about + (something/plain noun) simply sounds wrong.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Thanks.

I'll change the thread title to "being good about doing something" to better represent the construction used in the sentence and avoid confusion.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
From Canada, and it sounds wrong to me.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Oh, but LCF has a point...

"Good about doing X" implies that the person does it reliably and without hesitancy (but not necessarily well - indeed, as LCF points out, it tends to be used with regard to things that one isn't generally "good" or "bad" at doing per se, like "checking in".)
"Good at doing X" implies that the person does X well.

They are two different phrases with different meanings (at least in Canadian usage).
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
"Suzan is really good at computers" sounds good

I would rather say "Susan is really good with computers."

But, contrariwise, "Susan is really good at chess."

I think the noun has to be a sort of activity (not just an object) for the "at" construction to sound right.
 

LCF

One of "those" people
I would rather say "Susan is really good with computers.

LOL. That's something a normy would say. Here is good one:

She is really good at tech
She is really good with tech
She is really good about tech.

All 3 somehow work for me.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
LOL. That's something a normy would say. Here is good one:

She is really good at tech
She is really good with tech
She is really good about tech.

All 3 somehow work for me.

Not me. "About" sounds...very weird. Sort of like she doesn't mind using it, or something (i.e. she's not a Luddite :D ).

"With" sounds most normal to me. "At" sounds as though, again, "tech" is an activity...if I heard it, I would think that she designs or programs computers or something of that sort. "With tech" just sounds like she's good at using it.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
What others have said, basically. 'Good about' is not the same as 'good at'; the goodness lies not in the ability to to do something, but in being conscientious about it (as in your example with checking in), or in some other aspect. For example, someone might say that their boss is good about letting employees swap shifts; there's no particular skill involved, and what is meant is that as a general rule this is something that is tolerated.
 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
All of the about ones sound a little strange to me.
 

scrabulista

Consul
Staff member
I always say "good at doing something". Now I just came across this sentence, by a (usually competent) native speaker of American English, where she says "good about doing something". I'm not sure I've seen or heard this construction before. Is it correct? Is it common? Is it a specifically AE thing? Or a regional thing?

"Susan is really good about checking in often and keeping up with that."
To me, it's not quite the same as "good at doing something" = "doing something well."
"good about doing something" = "doing something regularly" You might do it poorly, but I don't have to remind you to do it.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
It appears from this thread that, while there may still be regional and/or personal variations, the majority agree that the "good about" construction is correct and used for a specific meaning that differs from the one of "good at".

While I'm very good at English, I'm good about making a fool of myself every now and then by being ignorant of random things like this.

Thank you all!
 
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