What does “that’s something” mean?

“Good evening,” said Ronan. “Students, are you? And do you learn much, up at the school?”
[Harry] “Erm ––”
[Hermione] “A bit,” said Hermione timidly.
“A bit. Well, that’s something.” Ronan sighed. He flung back his head and stared at the sky. “Mars is bright tonight.”
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

What does the bold part mean? From the lexical meaning of something, it seems to mean “that’s an important thing.” Yet, an example on a Korean website is translated as “one consolation in sadness,” and this can make sense in the context.

What does it really mean?


It doesn’t mean it’s an important thing; in fact it’s sort of the opposite. What Ronan means is that he wished they learned more than "a bit", but he’s glad they’re at least learning something. He might have said instead "Well, that’s better than nothing."

This is generally used when you wish something more/better than what is happening were possible, but are accepting what you can get. For example:

Jim: "Did you get everything we needed for the party? Sally really wanted those special crackers she likes."

Mary: "They didn’t have those, but I did find paper plates with unicorns on them!"

Jim: "Well, that’s something. Sally does like unicorns."

Wherein Jim really wishes Mary had gotten the crackers, but is pleased that at least something Sally likes will be present.

Source : Link , Question Author : Listenever , Answer Author : WendiKidd

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