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  1. #1
    justlearning is offline Newbie
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    Default it was okay/ it was just okay

    As an adjective, should "okay" always mean "better than expected"? Could it have different meanings depending on how it is said and the context?


    A: How was the test?
    B: It was okay but not as easy as I expected.

    How about "just okay"?
    Is the reply proper?
    A: How was the test?
    B: It was just okay. I mean it was better than what I expected but not too good.

  2. #2
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: it was okay/ it was just okay

    not a teacher

    As an adjective, should "okay" always mean "better than expected"?

    No, in fact that is probably not a common meaning for "okay".

    You have given two examples of very common meanings, roughly:
    1) not bad, but not as good as expected or hoped for.
    2) passably good, but certainly not great.

    For "okay" to clearly mean "better than expected", it's often set against low expectations.

    A: How was the test?
    B: I thought it would be a disaster, but in fact it was okay, I might pass.

    Although he can be a terrible actor, in this film he was okay and really brought something to the role.

    And yes, intonation and context can make a big difference.

  3. #3
    beesting is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: it was okay/ it was just okay

    Quote Originally Posted by JMurray View Post
    not a teacher

    As an adjective, should "okay" always mean "better than expected"?

    No, in fact that is probably not a common meaning for "okay".

    You have given two examples of very common meanings, roughly:
    1) not bad, but not as good as expected or hoped for.
    2) passably good, but certainly not great.

    For "okay" to clearly mean "better than expected", it's often set against low expectations.

    A: How was the test?
    B: I thought it would be a disaster, but in fact it was okay, I might pass.

    Although he can be a terrible actor, in this film he was okay and really brought something to the role.

    And yes, intonation and context can make a big difference.
    When any of my friends had had an exam and I want(or wanted?) to know how it went for them, I usually ask only "how was the test?" and not "how was the test for you?"

    But I came across the thread below, where Barb_D wrote: You can ask "How was the test?" (note the word order) but that asks about the test itself. Was it hard? Was it easy? It doesn't ask how the person did.
    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...-question.html

    In a casual conversation, if someone ask "how was the test", are they always asking about the test in general? And if someone tells you, "today's test was okay"(be it as a reply to your question or on their own) are they always talking about the test in general or could it possibly mean it was okay for them?
    Last edited by beesting; 24-Dec-2013 at 12:10.

  4. #4
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: it was okay/ it was just okay

    not a teacher

    In the linked thread a distinction is made between a question that asks about the nature of the test (was it hard, easy etc?), and a question that asks about the results (grades) achieved in the test. You may not know the results until several days later.

    However, if I had just left the exam room and someone asked me "How was the test?", I would take it as a general question about both the nature of the test and how well I thought I'd done in it, whether I already knew my grade or not. "It was pretty tough but I think I did alright".

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