Moderating positive adjectives with "hai"
Whenever you want to imply that something is "good," but also kind of "meh," you can use 还 (hái) in front of the "good" adjective.
Commonly Used Expressions
Besides expressing continuation, 还 (hái) can also be used to weaken positive adjectives. Used with the adjective "good," this is similar to saying "fairly good" or "pretty good" in English. It's also sometimes used by a speaker to be more modest. Below are some of the most common adjectives that get "toned down" by 还 (hái) in this structure.
Subj. + 还 + 好 / 可以 / 行 / 不错
In this pattern, 好 (hǎo), 可以 (kěyǐ), 行 (xíng), and 不错 (bùcuò) combined with 还 ()hái can all be taken to mean "pretty good" or "all right" or "decent" (but also kind of meh... not great). As in English, intonation and facial expressions help convey the meaning. If expectations were already low to begin with, 还可以 (hái kěyǐ) can have the sense of "pretty darn good;" it all depends on context and tone of voice.
- 我 还 好。 I'm OK.
- 爸爸 做 的 菜 还 可以。The food that dad cooks is OK.
- 我们 老板 还 不错。Our boss is not too bad.
- 这 家 店 还 行，不太 贵。This shop is OK. It's not too expensive.
- 我 男朋友 的 工资 还 可以。My boyfriend's salary is OK.
- 新 的 办公室 还 不错。The new office is OK.
- 我 觉得 这里 的 菜 还 可以，没有 那么 难吃。I think the food here is OK, it is not too bad-tasting.
- 这 个 牌子 还 不错，很 多 年轻 人 喜欢。This brand is not too bad. Many young people like it.
- 房子 还 可以，但是 有 点 贵。The apartment is not too bad, but it is a bit expensive.
Sources and further reading
- HSK Standard Course 2 (pp. 36) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 2 (3rd ed) (pp. 302) →buy
- Exemplification of Common Sentence Patterns in Spoken Chinese 汉语口语常用句式例解 (pp. 106-7) [ →buy]
- Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide (pp. 366) →buy