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One want to ask a question in regard to a person's suggestion to contribute:

Tina: "You should get laid more than once a year"

Tom: "the best you could say?

should I use can or could?

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I'm not sure I would say either of those phrases as it's unclear to me what they would mean, exactly. Could you give a bit more context? –  Dusty Nov 8 '10 at 0:33
    
OK, I updated the description –  Anderson Silva Nov 8 '10 at 12:02
    
This is still, even after the edit, unclear. Do you want to say that she is right and this was the best she could have said in this situation, or do you want to ask her whether she has nothing better to say, or do you want to add to the answer and propose the best follow up to her remark? –  malach Nov 8 '10 at 13:55
    
the 2nd one: "ask her whether she has nothing better to say" –  Anderson Silva Nov 8 '10 at 14:30
    
As I see the context, which is limited and from Anderson's comments, I believe that Tom is trying to denigrate Tina's intelligence, her ability to think, her use of language, ... because she has just made a dig at him. "That the best [response] you could come up with? Either can or could is possible and to me, as I envision it now, they are close to the same. Possibly, 'could' makes the dig a little more of a dig. –  Dan Apr 23 '11 at 19:22

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I can't really come up with any form involving "the best you could say" that sounds at all like something a native speaker would say. Depending on what exactly you're trying to get across, one of the following might be appropriate:

  • "Don't you have anything better to say?" - Ralph's suggestion is a good one, here, especially if you're wanting to chastise someone for being impolite, crude, etc. In my head, this feels like something a mother would ask of her child to scold them.
  • "Is that the best you could come up with?" This is a bit closer to your original phrasing, and can have a similar meaning to the phrase above, but with a more condescending/taunting overtone.
  • While I don't think it's what you're going for, there are some common phrases that are used in response to rude statements, again usually to scold children. E.g. "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". These probably aren't appropriate in this context, but I thought I'd mention them.
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