As part of my masters in linguistics, I am taking a course on the subject of irony. We were given examples of sentences that are most likely ironic, as the English sentence "he is not exceptionally smart" (which has the structure "he is not exceptionally X"). This does not mean literally that he is smart at an exceptional level, but rather, ironically, that he is very stupid.

Are there similar constructions in Spanish, preferably ones that involve superlatives and negations?


Como parte de mi maestría en lingüística, estoy tomando un curso cuyo tema es la ironía. Nos dieron ejemplos de oraciones que son principalmente irónicas, como la oración "he is not exceptionally smart" (que contiene la estructura "he is not exceptionally x"). Esto no tiene el significado literal que la persona es inteligente a un nivel excepcional, sino más bien que es muy tonta.

¿Existen construcciones similares en Español, preferentemente que involucren superlativos y negaciones?

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    I think that irony depends much on the context and the intonation you give to the sentence instead of on the structure of the sentence. – Javi Apr 13 '12 at 18:16

Todos estos ejemplos pueden incluir ironía:

Con negación:

  • No es muy listo.
  • Muy muy rápido no es.
  • No es muy guapa, que digamos.

Sin negación:

  • ¿Fernando? Sí, listísimo, vamos.
  • Sí, guapísima. [Pero tienes que transmitir la ironía con el contexto, el tono de voz, o la expresión facial.]
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You can also say:

He is not exceptionally X

No es la persona más X que he conocido.


He is not exceptionally intelligent

No es la persona más inteligente que he conocido.

If you want to be even a bit more ironic, add "precisamente" to the sentence, like:

No es precisamente la persona más inteligente que he conocido.

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Something very common in Mexico would be:

List, listo, lo que se dice listo no es.

Which could be loosely translated to:

He is not exactly what people would call smart.

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he is not exceptionally X

can be translated as

no es especialmente X

no es muy dado a X

you can also use

he's not very X

no es muy X

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