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Some people seem to use 還好 and 還可以 interchangeably, but another said 還好 is more negative than 還可以. She said 還好 is more like "so-so" whereas 還可以 is more like "pretty good".

Could someone explain the proper usage of 還好 and 還可以?

  • interchangeable (on the face of it 还可以 might not sound as positive as 还好) cf。"汉语800虚词用法词典"还3。用在形容词前,表示程度上勉强过得去。(一般往好的方面说)[usu. used before an adjective in a positive way] passably;fairly (1)我租住的小去区不大,周围环境还安静。(2)这次旅行我们去了南方五六个城市,一路倒还顺利。(3)这件质量不错,价钱也还便宜。(4)这种老酒虽然不太有名,但味道 还好 。(5)他女朋友个子不太高,长得倒还漂亮。(6)我跟他的关系还不错,我们在一个学过一年。(7)一个人过日子,什么滋味是可以想见的,不过也 还可以 。(8)姐姐,爸爸身体 还好 ,请你放心。 – user6065 Jun 26 '17 at 17:26
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'還好' here is short for '還(算)好' - 'still (considered) fine/ good'

'還可以' here is short for '還(算)可以' - 'still (considered) acceptable/ okay'

If someone asked you "How is your college life?" you can reply: "還好" or '還可以' (life in college for me is fine / life in college for me is okay). The two terms are interchangeable in this sense

If someone told you: "The cost of replacing the door is $500" and you replied: "還可以". That meant you considered this charge is fair and within the limit of your acceptability; If you replied: "還好". Then it would mean you're feeling lucky that it is only $500.

"還好" carries a tone of 'feeling lucky' ('still fine' means 'not bad yet'. "還可以" doesn't carry this tone.)

還好 is more negative than 還可以.

'Negative' only in the case of the alternates. If it is not "還好" (still fine) then it is 'already bad'; If it is not "還可以" (still okay) then it is 'already unacceptable'.

I have to mention '還好' is short for '還(算)好' and '還可以' is short for '還(算)可以' here in your question, because '還好' in different context could mean "luckily" and '還可以' in different context could mean " can also"

For Example:

1. 還好你沒有去上班,有人把辦公室燒了。 (fortunately you didn't go to work-- Someone set the office in fire.)

2. 不僅是日本,去韓國也還可以。(Not only Japan, you can also go to South Korea.)

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  • Thanks so much for this answer and the other answer! Your answers are so detailed and clear. :) Is it possible Taiwanese usage varies from this answer? The person who suggested 還好 means "so-so" is from Taiwan. Thanks again! – Crashalot Jun 26 '17 at 21:10
  • I think the bottom part is wrong, like attempt to connect sad to "马路很【难过】“。 – mootmoot Jun 27 '17 at 14:12
  • That's why I said 'in different context ' The 還好 and 還可以 in the question clearly refer to 'assessing one's situation' – Tang Ho Jun 27 '17 at 15:12

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