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Q.1 - 晩御飯はどうだった?

R.1 - 少し美味しくないよ。

R.2 - 少し美味しいけど、美味しすぎないよ。

So what I wanna mean is "The dinner was kinda good but not that great (it was not bad)".

I feel like R.1 is actually saying "It was kinda bad, not awful though".

And R.2 is saying "It was kinda good, not that good though", what do you think?

Thanks.

4 Answers 4

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I don't think "少し美味しくないよ。" is something we usually say. Generally speaking, we are ill-disposed toward the construction "少し[adjective]ない". I don't know why, but it sounds a bit too roundabout and hard to process. (And look at all other circuitous dictions we are so fond of using!) So you'll probably come off more natural saying "少し汚い" instead of "少し綺麗じゃない"; "少し暑い" instead of "少し涼しくない"; "少しまずい" instead of "少し美味しくない", etc.

One of the phrases we most often have recourse to in order to soften a negative comment is "あ(ん)まり...ない": "あ(ん)まり美味しくなかったよ。"

"少し美味しいけど" and "美味しすぎないよ" -- Again, neither sounds too natural in the context at hand. There are two words I can think of off the top of my head that express "okay" kind of good: they are "まあまあ" and "そこそこ". Paired with a positive adjective, they will constitute a lukewarm praise. ("そこそこ/まあまあ美味しかったよ。") Be careful if your listener is the one who made whatever you are passing down the judgement on -- they might not be much flattered, depending on their expectation.

A good alternative to "美味しすぎないよ"? Well, if you want to say something is blah-blah but not all that blah-blah, you can use "そこまで...ない".

For a conclusion, to rephrase R2:

まあまあ美味しかったけど、そこまで美味しくもなかったよ。

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  • Thank you for the answer!!! I just have one question, is 美味しくも "short" for 美味しくても? Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 17:26
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    No, it's not. But to tell the truth, I can't explain it's precise function there. I think it's grammatical, though... You can replace it with は for contrast, or remove it altogether and the sentence remains fine.
    – goldbrick
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 17:37
  • @goldbrick Pragmatically, is it ok to express that something is neither good neither bad (= average) in the Japanese context? Or is it considered to be rude/impolite? For instance if I say to a Japanese friend or colleague that some food is 'average'.
    – Starckman
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 2:00
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You can use the 〜も〜も〜ない pattern to convey this. In this case, it would be

おいしくおいしくなくない → Neither delicious or not delicious

You could also use まずく (from まずい) in place of おいしくなく.

Another example:

  • 映画どう?面白かった? → How was the movie? Good?
  • まー、好きでも嫌いでもねぇよ → Meh, I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it either.
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  • Hmm I just didn't get what's the pattern, at first it seemed you turned the i-adjective into an adverb, but then in the na-adjective you used で, was the first to avoid having to nominalize the i-adjective? Can you explain me or link to somewhere where I can check this pattern? Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:18
  • mm... おいしくなくもない is not very smoothly said, I'm afraid. Many ways are possible, but まずくもないけど、それほどおいしくもなかった is a natural alternative.
    – karlalou
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:45
  • @karlalou is まずくも "short" for まずくても? Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:56
  • @FelipeOliveira I speak it without knowing the grammar, and have to look around to know WHY, but it's まずくても食べる, and まずくもないし、おいしくもない. We can't switch まずくても and まずくも in these two the other way around.
    – karlalou
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 17:26
  • @karlalou thank you!! I thought so, because one of the answers showed that na-adjective take でも, so I realize it looked a lot like the grammar of linking adjetives 美味しくて甘くて, きれいで素敵 Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 17:27
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There are a lot of ways around this. First let me respond to your attempts.

A couple notes on your usage. The kanji 御飯 and 美味しい aren't that common in Japanese usage. ご飯 and おいしい respectively are more common. (Though it's not something people will shoot you down for, either).

Note your question asked "How was dinner?" so you need to respond using a past tense: おいしくなかった

Onto your samples:

少し美味しくなかったよ。

This sounds awkward to a Japanese person. 少し isn't the word to use here; that has more to do with quantitative things (amount, time, etc.) Think if I said "This is a a pinch of horrible." It'll get the point through, but not the most elegant of answers. Here you would use あまり.

あまりおいしくなかったよ。

That will get you your "Kinda bad, but not awful" feeling. Maybe more like "It wasn't that good" feel.

少し美味しいけど、美味しすぎないよ。

This is awkward as well. Again, you can't really use 少し here, and おいしすぎない isn't really a phrase that is used. It's literally saying "This is a pinch of delicious, but not too delicious," which doesn't make much sense in English as well. Maybe something like:

おいしかったと言えばおいしかったけど、何かが足りなかったな。I guess you can say it was good, some I felt like something was missing.

Other ways of saying things are OK could be:

まあまあでしたよ。It was OK. (neither good nor bad)
まあまあよかったかな? It's was well... good. (leaning slightly to good)
微妙だったな。That was meh. (a bit colloquial)

Or you could give it a rating:

70点くらいかな? About 70 points?
及第点ってところ。 It got a passing grade (but just barely).
中の上だと思います。 Top of the middle class.

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  • Hello Jimmy, thanks for the answer! I had maybe a bad understanding of 少し, but I thought I could say something like 少しだけ嬉しい (I've seen it in tv shows) Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:55
  • Hrm, you can but I can't really explain why. I think it may be that おいしい is a yes/no thing, it's either おいしい or it's not, whereas 嬉しい can have different levels of 嬉しい.
    – Jimmy
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 17:22
  • I see, tho I'd say that you can have different levels of おいしい too haha but it's up to the language not to what I think Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 17:24
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    True too. ...Maybe it's because you can only describe おいしい and up as opposed to in between meh and おいしい? I'm as lost there as you are, haha.
    – Jimmy
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 17:43
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This is absolutely casual, but in conversation rather than writing you might hear someone describe a meal as "normal" to mean "neither good nor bad".

For example:

A: 昨日の晩、吉野家の牛丼を食べた。
B: へえ。変わってるかもしれないけど、吉野家で食べたことがないんだ。どうだった?
A: 普通だった、吉野家だから。なんていうか、アメリカでマックを食べるみたいな感じかな。

Something to that effect. (Not so) terrible example (anymore, thanks to Chocolate), and I'm aware that it's not the best answer, but no one's brought it up before? Also might be non-standard usage/slang.

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    日本語の会話文、自然になるように、もう少し変えてもいいですか?
    – chocolate
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 23:57
  • どうぞお願いします。 o7 僕も確かにちょっと不自然だと思った
    – psosuna
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 0:01
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    私も、「どうだった?」「フツー。」ってよく言います。あんまりおいしくなかったら「いまいち。」とか。(「ビックリするほどおいしくはなかったゎ」って関西人だけかなー?)
    – chocolate
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 0:16
  • @psosuna Thank you!!! Now that you say, I recall seeing 普通 before!! Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 0:47

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