9 Other Ways to Say “That’s Not Good”

Other Ways to Say That's Not Good

In the vastness of the English language, the expression “that’s not good” is just one of many expressions we can use to express disappointment or concern. Just as there are countless shades of emotions, there are countless ways to express those feelings. Whether you’re trying to convey subtle unease, deep concern, or outright disapproval, the language offers a rich tangle of phrases and idioms. By varying our expressions, we can communicate more effectively, ensuring that our words resonate with the listener’s emotions and the situation.

Alternatives to “That’s Not Good”

Every word we choose paints a picture, and by expanding our linguistic palette, we can create more vivid and nuanced images. Instead of falling back on the familiar “that’s not good,” we can explore a range of alternatives that offer varying degrees of emphasis and subtlety.

Expressions of Concern

When something doesn’t go as planned or when someone shares disturbing news, it’s natural to express concern. Here are some other ways to say “that’s not good” that express sympathy and understanding:

1. That’s unfortunate

Example: “Your project didn’t get approved? That’s unfortunate.”

Meaning: It expresses a sense of empathy and understanding without delving into the specifics of the situation. It’s a way of saying, “I recognize that things didn’t work out as planned, and I sympathize with you,” without making the situation any worse than it needs to be.

Usage: Suitable for situations where you want to show sympathy without being overly dramatic.

2. That’s a bummer

Example: “You missed the bus again? That’s a bummer.”

Meaning: “That’s a bummer” is a colloquial expression of disappointment or sympathy that is rooted in informal language. It has a lighter tone, making it appropriate for minor inconveniences or mishaps. The phrase suggests a shared understanding that life has its ups and downs and sometimes things just don’t go our way.

Usage: Best used in informal settings among friends or peers.

3. That’s troubling

Example: “I heard about the company’s financial losses. That’s troubling.”

Meaning: This phrase has a heavier tone and indicates a deeper level of concern. It suggests that the situation in question is not just a minor setback, but something that could have broader implications. By using “that is troubling,” you are signaling that you realize the seriousness of the situation and are genuinely concerned about the potential consequences.

Usage: Suitable for more formal or serious situations where a casual phrase might seem dismissive.

Expressions of Disapproval

Sometimes, we need to express disapproval or disagreement. Here are some alternatives to “that’s not good” that can be used to convey disapproval:

girl disapprove something

4. That’s not ideal

Example: “Using outdated software for the project? That’s not ideal.”

Meaning: This phrase subtly indicates that there is a better or more effective way to handle the situation. It’s a diplomatic way of highlighting a flaw or omission without being confrontational. The underlying message is, “This is not the best approach, but we can find a solution.”

Usage: Suitable for professional settings where you want to point out a flaw without being confrontational.

5. That won’t do

Example: “You forgot to include the references in your report? That won’t do.”

Meaning: This is a firm expression that indicates something is wrong and needs to be corrected. It is a call to action that suggests that the current situation or approach is unacceptable. While it is direct, it also implies a conviction that the problem can and should be corrected.

Usage: Use this when you need to emphasize that a mistake or oversight needs to be addressed.

6. That’s off the mark

Example: “Your interpretation of the data seems a bit off the mark.”

Meaning: This phrase is a delicate way of pointing out inaccuracies or misconceptions. It suggests that while the effort or intent is in the right place, the execution or understanding has gone off the expected path. It is constructive criticism that opens the door for clarification or correction.

Usage: Suitable for situations where you want to correct someone without being too direct.

Softening the Blow

Phrases like “that could be better” or “that’s a bit concerning” allow us to soften the impact of our words. They provide a cushion, so to speak, ensuring that while the message is received, it’s done so with a touch of gentleness and understanding.

7. That could be better

Example: “Your performance this quarter could be better.”

Meaning: A tactful way to suggest an opportunity for improvement. Acknowledges effort but indicates that results are not up to the expected standard. The phrase carries an implicit message of encouragement, hinting at the belief that the person has the potential to do better.

Usage: Suitable for feedback sessions or when you want to motivate someone to do better.

8. That’s a bit concerning

Example: “The sales numbers for this month are a bit concerning.”

Meaning: This phrase subtly indicates a potential issue or problem. It is a way to raise a red flag without causing undue alarm. The use of “little” softens the impact by suggesting that while there is cause for concern, this is not a full-blown crisis.

Usage: Use this when you want to point out an issue without causing panic.

9. That’s not what I was hoping for

Example: “You decided to drop out of the course? That’s not what I was hoping for.”

Meaning: This expression expresses personal disappointment without blaming the listener. It is a way of sharing feelings and expectations without making the other person feel guilty or defensive. The basic feeling is, “I had different hopes or expectations, but I respect your decision.”

Usage: Suitable for personal conversations where you want to convey your feelings without sounding judgmental.

9 Other Ways to Say That's Not Good Infographic

When to use different expressions

Casual settings

In casual settings, such as friendly gatherings or family dinners, expressions like “That’s a bummer” perfectly capture the sentiment of minor inconveniences. Similarly, “You’ve got this” serves as a casual morale booster, while “That could be better” offers a light-hearted acknowledgment of imperfection.

Formal settings

Transitioning to more formal environments, such as professional meetings or official communications, the tone often shifts. Here, “That’s not ideal” emerges as a diplomatic way to highlight shortcomings. “That’s troubling” subtly conveys deeper concerns, and “That won’t do” firmly, yet politely, signals something’s amiss.

Academic settings

In academic or professional realms, feedback requires a balance of honesty and tact. “That’s off the mark” gently points out inaccuracies, “That could be better” constructively suggests improvements, and “That’s not what I was hoping for” delicately expresses unmet expectations.


The English language is a treasure trove of expressions, idioms, and phrases. Every conversation is an opportunity to dip into this wealth and discover new ways of expressing ourselves. By expanding our vocabulary and being careful about our choice of words, we can have conversations with more subtlety and sensitivity. After all, it’s not just what we say, but how we say it. So the next time you find yourself searching for the right words, remember that there is a world of expressions waiting to be discovered. Dive in, explore, and allow your words to paint a masterpiece.

For those who are keen on improving their language skills, platforms like Grammarly and Cambridge Dictionary are invaluable. Not only do they provide insight into word usage and synonyms, but they also delve into the cultural and historical nuances of language. With these resources at your fingertips, you’re well-prepared to make any conversation memorable.


1. Why is it important to use different expressions instead of just saying “that’s not good”?

Using varied expressions allows for more nuanced communication. Different situations and audiences may require different levels of sensitivity or emphasis. By diversifying our language, we can convey our feelings and concerns more accurately and empathetically.

2. Are these expressions suitable for both formal and informal settings?

While some expressions, like “that’s a bummer,” are more suited for informal settings, others like “that’s troubling” or “that’s not ideal” can be used in more formal contexts. It’s essential to gauge the situation and the audience before choosing an expression.

3. Can these expressions be used universally across different cultures?

Language and expressions can sometimes be culture-specific. Although many of these phrases are understood in English-speaking countries, they may not resonate or be misinterpreted in other cultures. It’s always a good idea to be aware of cultural nuances when communicating, especially in different environments.

4. Can I mix and match these expressions in a conversation?

Absolutely! Depending on the flow of the conversation and the points you are making, you can use multiple expressions to express your feelings or concerns. However, it is important to ensure that the expressions used are appropriate to the context and do not confuse the listener.

Categorized as Casual

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