Advanced English

Irony and Ironic Statements

Irony is a technique used in English to emphasise a point using the opposite (or deeper) meaning of something. It can be used in many situations but most often it is used to be comical. For example:

The world’s full of apathy, but I don’t care.

Apathy is the state of indifference – not caring about something either way. The statement is negatively saying that the world is full of people who don’t care (who are apathetic) but the speaker doesn’t care – he is being apathetic himself.

Irony is similar to sarcasm, which is saying the opposite meaning of something for effect. For example:
Brilliant, I’ve been fired!


Shakespeare often used irony in his plays. In Romeo and Juliet:

For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men

The quote (spoken by Marc Antony) is reporting that Brutus (a tyrant) is an honourable man.

However, Marc Antony does not agree and is saying that if Brutus is an honourable man then everyone is honourable; in effect, he is no different than anyone else (and is indeed worse).



Think about these ironic statements. What do they mean? How are they ironic?

  • On one hand, I’m indecisive; but on the other, I’m not.
  • If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s intolerance.
  • There’s no such thing as nonexistence.
  • Cooperation can only be reached if we work together.
  • Avoid idioms like the plague.
  • An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
  • I always wanted to be a procrastinator!
  • Rehab is for quitters!
  • I am becoming increasingly worried that there isn’t enough anxiety in my life.
  • I have this nagging fear that everyone is out to make me paranoid.

What other ironic statements can you think of?

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