A teacher remarked in progress report of a student that she "can do still better" to say that she can do better than what she did now. Is it correct?

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, TimLymington, anongoodnurse, aedia λ, tchrist Feb 4 '14 at 1:20

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  • 2
    General Reference - still - happening or existing before now and continuing into the present; in spite of that. – FumbleFingers Feb 1 '14 at 16:11
  • 3
    @FF Not in this position, where it means 'even'. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 1 '14 at 16:23
  • @Edwin: There are shades of emphasis, as "exaggerated" in my comment to dingo's answer. But let's face it - "even" here is effectively better than currently, in spite of the fact that it is already good. – FumbleFingers Feb 1 '14 at 16:30
  • Different part of speech: this still is an adverb-modifier. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 1 '14 at 16:55

I've typically seen this as "can still do better (than this or than that)" or "can do better still." What I think the teacher is saying is that the student's progress so far has been good but there's still room for improvement.

  • It might be stylistically weak, but grammatically there would be nothing wrong with “The student can still do still better”. The first still would then convey despite whatever obstacles the student may face or have faced, whereas the second would convey even better than the [implicitly, already good] previous performance. – FumbleFingers Feb 1 '14 at 16:18
  • Good point. I've added an optional comparison to "still do better" to make the first convey the meaning of the second, which I suppose is the teacher's intent. – user39720 Feb 1 '14 at 16:27
  • +1 for saying what I was also thinking. :) -- (But I don't think the dictionary excerpt you have inserted is related to the OP's issue.) – F.E. Feb 1 '14 at 19:23

From experience, including the word "still" in this situation indicates that the teacher sees that the student is indeed more than capable; however, lacks motivation, is uncooperative, disruptive, disinterested, etc.

  • I recommend that you read the Trow 'Maxwell' novels. Though you probably have. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 2 '14 at 15:34

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