I am not about to judge which way of teaching English grammar is to be more highly appreciated.
I bumped into one website about English grammar, in which the sentences “Enjoy summer better. I already enjoy it good.” were analyzed (in response to the question from a reader).
It seems to me that Japanese teachers would explain it in a very different manner. They would use more technical terms and say, “The word better is a comparative that comes from both good and well. In this case, an adverb is needed because there is no noun for an adjective to modify. Therefore, it is a grammatical error to say I already enjoy it good. It should be I already enjoy it well.”
From the Japanese perspective, “Enjoy summer much.” is correct because “much” indicates “a great deal.”
“Enjoy summer well.” is also correct because “well” represents a good skill with which to do something.
Therefore, “Enjoy summer more.” and “Enjoy summer better.” are both correct, but “Enjoy summer good.” is not acceptable.
That is OK…in this particular case.
But how about this? “Which do you like better, tea or coffee?”
This sentence has been traditionally found in many of the English textbooks issued by Japanese publishers. In fact, I learned this sentence back when I was 13…more than 30 years back 🙂
“Better” is a comparative of “well” or “good.” In this sentence, you cannot say, “I like coffee good.” (“good coffee” would be all right, but “coffee good” would indicate something else and would not answer the question correctly.) It is thus concluded that “better” is a comparative of “well.”
I used to think…”I like coffee well?” What does that mean? Do I like coffee skillfully? Shouldn’t we say “Which do you like more?” That sounds better because you can say, “I like coffee very much.”
I used to think like that.
Now, I think rather differently.
Maybe I should say “Which do you prefer?” Why? Because that’s what people usually say. “Which do you like better?” is also OK. Why? Because that sounds idiomatically correct. (in other words, that’s what they say.)
This aspect of learning English is very important. We should sometimes forget about grammar and look at what people (native speakers) usually say. If that’s how they say it, so be it. You should not start exploring how it is congruent with prescriptive grammar. Japanese learners are often criticized for sticking to grammar rules. They should sometimes accept what they hear as it is.
By the way, a colleague of mine who is from New Zealand cut in our discussion about “which do you like better or which do you like more” and said that “Which do you like best?” was good. We ignored it as if he were not there 😉