Swedish has the words "bra", "god" and "väl" with similar meanings.

"Bra" is usually an adjective for example

Han är en bra programmerare.

= He is a good programmer.

"God" means more like "fair" or "just" and has some moral into it maybe. Norwegian and German, our close related languages, have the words "gut" and "god" instead of "bra".

In Swedish the word "bra" is also used as an adverb which sounds and looks strange:

Han springer bra.

= "He runs well."

Is there any logic or history why we have the word "bra" so often instead of "well/väl" and instead of "god/good"?

I'm not good at my native language's grammar so maybe I can learn that there is some logic behind it. To me it seems like the adjective "bra" is used as an adverb when it actually is an adjective that should only describe a noun.

In English there is a similar difference sometimes between phrases such as "Feeling well" and "Feeling good" that I didn't fully understand. Why is the adjective used in one case and the adverb in the other case?

  • 1
    I understand it is from German brav and that from French brave.
    – user6726
    Feb 10, 2017 at 23:24
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    Norwegian has it too, and there it can mean both the adjective ("good, fine") and the adverb ("well"), e.g. Hovrdan har du det? ("How are you?") - Bra ("good", "fine").
    – lemontree
    Feb 11, 2017 at 10:53

1 Answer 1


According to Wiktionary, it originates from the Italian bravo:


Etymology: Since at least 1621, from braf ‎(“good, brave”); from German brav; from French brave, borrowed from Italian bravo.


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