Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

There are many interesting ways to say “good” and “bad” in English.

This vocabulary will help you avoid saying the same basic words over and over again.

Words like “good” and “bad” can be overused.

Today you’ll learn alternative adjectives to say something is either good or bad in business English.

The good and the bad

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Michelle share part 1 of a two-part series.

This series will answer a listener question regarding the words good and bad.

The second part of this episode will be on the All Ears English podcast.

Be sure to follow both podcasts to hear the entire series!

Today’s question

I am very grateful to you. Your podcast flourishes my English every morning. What is still annoying to me while speaking English is the difficulty I have finding alternatives for “good” and “bad” adjectives. SOS!

This is a great question.

These are very common words and it’s essential to use a variety of alternatives so you don’t use them too often.

You often need to elevate your English vocabulary in the business world.

Many Business English Podcast episodes will help bring your English to the next level.

You can check out BE 188: Michelle’s Startup Stories.

Synonyms for good and bad

Today we’ll share a variety of ways you can say “good” and “bad” to create variety in your vocabulary.

These could be used outside of business as well.

Lindsay and Michelle divide these based on frequency of use and the appropriate setting for them.

Here are alternatives for ‘good’:

#1: Alternatives for “good”

A great option is “strong.”

This sounds more interesting and recalls something that is sturdy and reliable.


I love how your presentation started with a strong introduction.

Another option is “powerful.”

This can be used to describe big and unique moments that are incredibly good.


The speech the CEO made at the end of the conference was incredibly powerful.

Another good option is “effective.”

This speaks to a specific positive impact brought about by something.

It can make you sound more articulate.


The graph was really effective in the meeting.

“Impressive” is a more elevated and objective way to say something is good.


All of the candidates were impressive, but I think Julie deserves the job.

#1: Alternatives for “bad”

Saying something “needs work” is an indirect way of saying it needs to be improved.

This can also be used in a casual setting.


This team really needs work. We need to make some changes.

Similarly, you can say something “needs improvement.”

As in the above example, you are saying something needs to be changed to make it better.


Her slides are okay, but her public speaking skills need improvement.

You can also say it “leaves something to be desired.”

This is a polite way to give feedback to someone or something.

It means there is still space for improvement and change.


The workplace culture in that company leaves something to be desired.

“Substandard” is an option on the extreme side as it means something doesn’t meet a standard.

It could imply a consistency of bad work or gaps in performance.


His work is substandard.

What makes a strong employee

Michelle asks Lindsay what makes a good employee.

Lindsay answers, firstly, that someone should be able to accept feedback.

Taking feedback and making the needed change is something very valuable because it makes a person teachable.

This is also showing that the person has a growth mindset.

The ideal employee constantly wants to improve and make space for their skills to grow and improve.

Michelle agrees with this.

She adds that having someone who is reliable is also a good asset.

You want to work with someone who you trust can do the work without your oversight.


Lindsay and Michelle share a roleplay using the vocabulary they taught in today’s episode.

In this scenario, they are going over a project that they are working on together.

Lindsay: So, I love what you did with the visuals. They are really powerful.
Michelle: Thanks! I felt if we use bold colors, it would be most effective.
Lindsay: Totally.
Michelle: And your sources are impressive! Really strong- they will help us prove our points.
Lindsay: Thanks so much! Do you think our intro needs improvement?
Michelle: Hmmm. I guess it leaves something to be desired. Maybe we can rethink it?
Lindsay: Yes, because, honestly, I think it’s a little substandard.
Michelle: It definitely needs work.


When speaking in English, you would want to have a variety of vocabulary to start an interesting conversation.

Many words like “good” and “bad” that can be overused.

You don’t want to use broad and vague words all the time.

Instead, use synonyms that create an impact when you are describing things or give your insights.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this episode on the All Ears English podcast.

Which synonyms for “good” and “bad” are your favorite?

We’d love to hear from you, so share it in the comments below.

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