Not good vs. No good

Here’s something that’s good to know: No good means something has no use or value, and has no potential of becoming good. Not good means something is bad or undesirable. The correct way to use them isn’t that clear cut. At times, there’s no difference, and they can be used interchangeably.

No Good

When good is used as a noun, no can quantify or modify it. For example, “No good can come from this evil plan,” or “His suspicious behavior indicated that he was up to no good.” In these sentences, we can’t really use not in place of no because both nos refer to a quantity of zero good. And yes, that is the plural of no. Some writers connect no and good with a hyphen when it’s used as an adjective phrase that’s connected to a noun (e.g. “The no-good dishwasher stopped working again,”).

No good is an adjective phrase when good modifies a noun and no indicates the degree to which good applies. No good is the complete absence of good. It means something is of no use or value for anything or to anyone. It can refer to a person, as in, “Jack was always in trouble. He was just no good.” It can describe something as useless or worthless, as in, “The spare tire is no good. It has a hole in it.” It can also describe something that’s gone bad or lost its effectiveness, as in, “This milk is no good. It expired last week.”

Not Good

Not good is used strictly as an adjective. Not acts to disqualify something from being good. It implies that something is either bad or mediocre. It’s used as an adjective to describe the condition or state of something, as in, “Chocolate is not good for dogs.” It can’t be used as a noun.

Not good means something has (or once had) the potential to be good, but isn’t. For example, “That dinner was not good,” implies that particular meal tasted bad. Saying “That dinner was no good,” can imply that there wasn’t a single good part of the meal or that it didn’t satisfy the speaker’s hunger.

Not good also can imply that a situation hasn’t reached a conclusion. “Mary’s chances of finishing the race after twisting her ankle are not good,” means that there’s very little possibility of Mary finishing her race. There may be some sliver of hope, but not much. If we said “Mary’s chances of finishing the race are no good,” it would mean it’s impossible.


In Case Of vs. In The Event Of

Do you break the glass in case of emergency or in the event of emergency? The phrases in case of and in the event of are both prepositions. The first one means if it should occur. The second means if or when something happens.

preposition is a word or phrase that shows a relationship between two elements in a clause. Some common prepositions are onafterbefore, and if. For example, in the sentence “The man sat on the chair,” the word on tells you the spatial relationship between the man and the chair.

Difference in Meaning

In most cases, you can use in case of and in the event of interchangeably. Grammatically, either really correct. For instance, it’s acceptable to say “I brought my umbrella in case of sudden rain.” It’s equally acceptable to say “I brought my umbrella to be prepared in the event of rain.”

There’s a slight difference how these two terms are usually used. Many times, in case of implies that you’re taking some action as a precaution against an unexpected event. For example, you might bring seasickness pills on a cruise in case of stormy seas. You don’t necessarily expect stormy seas to happen for certain, but you’re prepared if they do.

On the other hand, in the event of usually refers to what one should do if something happens unexpectedly. For instance, “In the event of an earthquake, stand in a doorway away from the windows.” This means that if or when an earthquake happens, this is what you’re supposed to do.


The term in case is often used without the preposition of to mean if. So if you were to say “Here’s my phone number in case we get separated,” you’d mean the other person should use it if the two of you get separated.

People also use just in case in this way. For instance, a mother might warn her child, “Bring an extra pair of socks, just in case your feet get wet.” Just in case can also mean in the event something happens. For instance, “He took along his extra socks, just in case.

In the same way, people sometimes use the phrase in the event that instead of in the event of. For example, one might say “Call me in the event that you need a ride.” In this case, you could just as easily say “Call me if you need a ride.”

The phrases in case of and in the event of have very similar meanings. People often use them interchangeably, but they do have some slight differences. In case of usually implies that a person is preparing for an unexpected event. In the event of refers to actions one should take if an unexpected event occurs.

“Nevertheless She Persisted”

Recently, we saw a male US senator silence his female colleague on the floor of the United States Senate. In theory, gender has nothing to do with the rules governing the conduct of US senators during a debate. The reality seems rather different.

The silencing of women ordinarily entitled to speak has often been the case during times of deep political acrimony. In March 415, a mob in the Egyptian city of Alexandria attacked and brutally murdered the female pagan philosopher Hypatia. Their grievance was a simple one. Hypatia had inserted herself into a conflict between Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria, and Orestes, the Roman governor in charge of the region, that had degenerated into city-wide violence. Hypatia was working with Orestes to resolve this incredibly tense and dangerous situation. To Orestes, collaboration with the philosopher Hypatia was a prudent step consistent with longstanding Roman tradition. To Orestes’s detractors, however, Hypatia’s gender and religion marked her as an outsider. She had intruded into a public controversy where she did not belong.  Her voice needed to be silenced.

This murderous anger erupted against Hypatia despite the fact that Roman philosophers had been involved in moderating public disputes for centuries. The Roman world had long respected the wisdom and rationality of these figures. Since the late first century AD, everyone from Roman emperors to local city councilors accorded philosophers the freedom to give uncensored advice on public matters. Many philosophical schools came to expect that philosophers would be actively involved in guiding their home cities and fellow citizens. Hypatia herself had long played this role. She had hosted many Roman governors, Alexandrian city councilors, and important visitors at her home. She had also regularly given advice to these men in public.

Capitol Senate
Image Credit: Capitol-Senate, 25 May 2007 by Scrumshus. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

No other woman in early fifth century Alexandria had earned such access to power. Male authors were quick to explain that Hypatia’s influence resulted from her temperance and self-discipline, virtues they felt a woman who interacted regularly with such prominent men must possess. These men spoke at length about Hypatia’s virginity, even repeating a rumor that Hypatia once warded off a prospective suitor by showing him a used menstrual napkin. They clearly understood that Hypatia had to surrender some of her privacy in exchange for this extraordinary level of access.

Hypatia had earned this influence, but her position was fragile. It depended on a group of men continuing to agree that a woman should be given the sort of authority usually reserved for them. Hypatia might expect this recognition to endure during times of relative calm, but the tensions of 415 had produced toxic political dysfunction. Neither the bishop nor the governor trusted one another—and their supporters looked for someone to blame. For Cyril’s partisans, Hypatia was the perfect choice. She was a powerful outsider who suddenly seemed to exercise influence that far exceeded what a woman should. As tensions increased, discussion of why exactly a woman played so prominent a role started to emerge. Rumors spread that Hypatia’s influence with the governor came from sorcery not philosophy. Soon it was said that she had caused the entire conflict with the bishop by bewitching him. It was a short leap from there to the decision by Peter, a devoted follower of Cyril, to assemble a mob to silence Hypatia. While Peter likely planned only to use the threat of violence to intimidate Hypatia into silence, mobs are not easily controlled. When they found Hypatia unprotected, their anger became murderous.

Thousands of Roman philosophers, both famous and forgotten, played the same sort of public role as Hypatia in the first five centuries of Roman imperial rule. Only Hypatia was killed by a mob. It is impossible to say what role her gender played in her fate, but it is also difficult to deny that being a woman made her a target.

This points to a crucial and uncomfortable truth. It is far easier for societies to acknowledge and honor the achievements of prominent women during times of political calm, although, even then, publicly-engaged women endure scrutiny their male counterparts do not. During times of social stress these female leaders are often targeted in ways men are not. And yet, whether in fifth century Alexandria or twenty-first century Washington, these women do not stop speaking. Hypatia was undeterred by the slanders that made their way through Alexandria in the winter of 415. She continued playing the public role her philosophical convictions demanded. Her heroism in doing so stands unacknowledged by her male contemporaries. But this does not make it any less real. Hypatia had been warned repeatedly that her influence could be challenged, perhaps violently. Nevertheless, she persisted.