Can you say "Ca gout bon/mauvais"?
I am a little confused why I see 'it smells good/bad' written as 'Ca sent bon/mauvais', but I see 'it tastes good/bad' written as 'Ca a bon/mauvais gout'.
Is there a reason for the difference, or can you say "Ca gout bon/mauvais" as well?
Can anyone help?
Nop, you cannot say "Ca gout bon". Just like you can't say "Ca a bon sent". Maybe because "sent" is essentially a verb, while "gout" is a noun?
My understanding is that English is more plastic and verbs can become nouns and vice versa. Not so much for French.
Pretty much ! The verb "goûter" means to taste in the sense of the action of putting something in your mouth to try it, or in a metaphorical sense to try a thought. There is no verb in french to express the specific meaning of "to taste" that is "to have the taste of..." so you have to use a periphrasis : It tastes good -> ça a bon goût (lit. it has good taste/flavour) It tastes like bread -> ça a le goût du pain (lit. it has the taste/flavour of bread) ça a le même goût que le pain (it has the same taste as bread)
However, in some dialects (e.g. strongly influenced by english) you may actually see "ça goûte bon", and I think it will always be understood even if it's weird.
ça a un mauvais gout. You can't see "ça gout mauvais" because you can't. French has a different way of conveying this concept than English. One of the parts of learning a new language is learning to be flexibile in how concepts are communicated differently in the target language. There isn't always a straight up translation, one for one, exactness....