Some friend told me the word "deceitful" usually has a negative connotation.

Assume Alice's grammar is bad. Her teacher tells that her grammar is good to encourage her. Provided Alice's bad grammar is a fact, Her teacher tells a lie. Although the lie is to encourage Alice and hurts nobody.

Could I say the following?

The teacher is being deceitful to encourage her students.

where "deceitful" is being used as a positive word.

which means lots of adjectives that have negative connotations could be used as positive words.

Could someone please give a hint about the rules/conventions of it? Thanks in advance.


Well, it could hurt her, by making her assume that her grammar is good enough, so that she feels that she does not need to practice / work on it, and thus she will not improve.

Nevertheless, I would not use deceitful in this case, as the teacher was trying to encourage her. Similar for when you are trying not to discourage someone, or not hurt someone's feelings.

I would say the teacher "told a little white lie" or "sugar-coated the truth"

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