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I am wondering if "Good thing... " has a negative connotation or is it neutral in nature?

For example "She sings poorly, good thing she is cute." Is the speaker being sarcastic here? Like she is just a bad singer with good face?

Can I say something like: "He is not handsome, good thing he has a tender heart." Or "It is raining heavily, good thing you brought an umbrella."

Also, is there any dictionary out there which also tells learners the connotation of words? Thanks a lot! :)

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  • I don't think there are any "dictionaries of connotations". Some entries may be characterized, for example, as vulgar, or pejorative, but connotation is not only connected with individual words but with context. Suppose I tell you something like, If you ask me how she sings, I can tell you she is cute, or if to the question Is he handsome? the interlocutor replies: He has a tender heart, the answerer is being more sarcastic than in the other sentences you proposed. The words are practically the same, but arranged in a different way it makes all the difference.
    – Gustavson
    Mar 12, 2017 at 1:42
  • It's very common to use good thing in a wholly positive context, e.g. "Good thing I ran into you today, I've something to ask you." Or "The invention of the internet was a good thing for telecommunications companies." You're picking a case where "good thing" is used in contrast to a bad thing.
    – Stuart F
    May 24, 2021 at 9:34

2 Answers 2

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Good thing used in this context, is signalling a redeeming feature of some kind and the connotation is positive.

Think of it like this:

X is bad, but improved because of Y.

In your example

"He is not handsome, good thing he has a tender heart."

X = He is not handsome. Y = He has a tender heart.

and in example two:

"It is raining heavily, good thing you brought an umbrella."

X = it is raining heavily. Y = you brought an umbrella.

The connotation associated with the feature that follows 'good thing' in the context you are using it, is positive. But it is preceded by a negative connotation.

The fact that in your examples the negative attributes are expressed as a matter of fact: "She sings poorly", "He is not handsome", "It is raining". Yet the positive attributes are modified such that they are not only inherently positive but also "good", places the emphasis on the positive attributes in the sentence, so the net effect overall is a positive connotation in the meaning of the sentence I would say, even if it is somewhat belittled by the prior negative connotation.

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  • I find "good thing" to be similar to "but at least..."
    – Gustavson
    Mar 12, 2017 at 1:30
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Extending Gary's answer, there is an opposite:

If the first thing is good, but ruined by something else, you can do the simple:

"She's pretty, too bad she can't sing."

Alternatively,

"She's pretty, it's a shame/pity she can't sing." (This version has a stronger connotation).

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