I wrote:

I can't call the following riddle a standard one with a certain answer but it's not that bad.

A native speaker said to me that he can't get "it's not that bad" part. Is it ambiguous? Maybe I should have said "it's is not too bad", but in general I use "not that bad" after I have criticized something and I want to make the situation better. For example, "her cooking isn't good, but it's not that bad, it's worth to taste....".

If it is an improper usage, then what can I say instead?

  • Seems understandable to me. I would probably reword as "I wouldn't call the following a standard riddle with a definite answer, but it's not that bad." – D. Nelson Dec 15 '16 at 6:51

Your phrase is understandable and often used.

The phrases

it's not that bad
it's not so bad
it's not too bad

usually get used to take the sting out of criticism, however, when spoken if the qualifier is stressed it might be understood to be sarcastic

I guess it's not toooo bad.
It's not sooooo bad.

meaning "it's horrible".

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