Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you know how to use the word “sound” to talk about more than just music? This is a dynamic word that can be used in many different expressions and phrases.

Today we have a really specific question about the use of the word “sound.”

Hi Lindsay and Michelle. I hope all is well. My name is Michiko. I’m from Tokyo, Japan. I have been listening your podcast for over a year and I really feel my English is improving thanks to this podcast. I was in NY last year and started listening the podcast. Many parts of your conversation remind me NY, which make me very happy but miss the greatest city at the same time.

I have a question about the word “sound”. When I submit my essay to my teacher, he said “overall the essay seems really sound although perhaps it is not very explanative or complex”. I believed an adjective should be after “sound”, like “sounds good”, but there is not. In this context, what does “sound” mean? Is “seems sound” a phrase? Or is any adjective omitted? This is my first question to send you. I really look forward to listing your answer in the podcast.

Best Regards, Michiko

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Great question! The word “sound” is a very dynamic word.
It can be used in many ways, for example:

  • Noun- what you hear- a funny sound

Today we will talk about the word “sound” in a different context. The dictionary says sound can mean several things as an adjective–for example, reliable, in good condition, valid, reasonable, deep and undisturbed.

In Michiko’s example,  “overall the essay seems really sound although perhaps it is not very explanative or complex” the teacher likely means that the essay is very logical, it makes sense, it’s reasonable, etc. In this case, sound can be used as an adjective and does not need to have “good” after it. Yes, you can say “seems sound.”

Other chunks where sound may be used:

  • Safe and sound: Meaning everything is okay
    • L: Is Billy home yet? M: Yes, he made is home safe and sound. You can go to sleep now!
  • Of sound mind: Know what’s going on–to understand, often used with the elderly. “Although she’s 90 years old, she’s still of sound mind and can make her decisions and even follows the news.”
  • Sound sleeper: A peaceful sleeper
    • L: I couldn’t sleep last night, which is weird, because I’m normally such a sound sleeper.
    • M: I guess something was bothering you!

We also say sound asleep and we use it like this: “I didn’t hear you, I was sound asleep.”

Overall, sound is this idea of everything being ok without a problem.

I think of it as kind of a peaceful word. So although it is used in many ways like sounds good, sounds like, etc., this is another way it can be used and it is used this way frequently.


Many times you may notice a word being used in a different context. It’s great to ask us the meaning! Keep in mind that many words can be nouns, verbs, adjectives, or more than one. Listen to see if you hear this word in context. The way your teacher used it sounds very professional to me. Let us know how it goes!

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