phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

A little trouble

Posted by Dhm on May 28, 2004

In Reply to: A little trouble posted by Henry on May 27, 2004

: : : : : Hi,
: : : : : I have a confusion with a phrase " Not too Bad" heavily used by my peer in the office. English is his second language as mine but he says that when he uses this it mean good. I have a different opinion I think this means he is nott that bad, but still BAD????

: : : : : Can anyone please let me know what exatly it means when one says " I am not too bad!"

: : : : : Thanks and Regards,
: : : : : Khan

: : : : to me, a native English speaker, it implies something marginally better than 'bad'; something that is 'reasonable', 'up to the job', but not much more than that - just about OK, or very slightly better.

: : : It depends on how it is said. "Not too bad!" with a tone of admiration could mean "very good."

: : If somebody told me my work was "not too bad", meaning "good" by their tone of admiration, I might take it as condescending, or that their expectations were not very high to begin with. I'd prefer "not too shabby", which I think is more genuine.

: The English are notorious for understatement. Not too bad would commonly mean very good. This habit can lead to confusion with other English-speaking people. In the Second World War, a party of soldiers were heavily outnumbered and reported that they were "in a little trouble". The message was received by an American radio operator who took it literally and did not recognise their need for assistance.

Actually, this is why we (USA) didn't get into the war until 1941!