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Not bad

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 20, 2007

In Reply to: Not bad posted by Bob on April 19, 2007

: : I wrote an article and my teacher (i guess he is from US) wrote the comment 'not bad'. does it mean it is just okay or it is actually good?

: Somewhere in between.

This is one of the phrases in English whose meaning depends entirely on the context and tone of voice. If someone says warmly, "That's not bad at all", that means "pretty good" (litotes, as Smokey said). If they shrug and say "Mmh, not bad, I suppose" that means it'll just about pass. I think it's a bit unfair of your teacher to write it, as this gives you no clue which way he meant it! Try asking him?

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