Thinking about Language
Irony is when we say one thing but mean another, usually the opposite of what we say. When someone makes a mistake and you say, “Oh! That was clever!” that is irony. You’re saying ‘clever’ to mean ‘not clever’.


Expressions we often use in an ironic fashion are:

• Oh, wasn’t that clever!/Oh that was clever!

• You have been a great help, I must say!

• You’ve got yourself into a lovely mess, haven’t you?

• Oh, very funny!/How funny!


We use a slightly different tone of voice when we use these words ironically.
Read the play carefully and find the words and expressions Gerrard uses in an ironic way. Then say what these expressions really mean. Two examples have been given below. Write down three such expressions along with what they really mean.

What the author says

What he means

Why, this is a surprise, Mr – er –

He pretends that the intruder is a social visitor whom he is welcoming. In this way he hides his fear.

At last a sympathetic audience!

He pretends that the intruder wants to listen to him, whereas actually the intruder wants to find out information for his own use.


What the author says

What he means

You won’t kill me for a very good reason.

Gerrard is just pretending to have a ‘very good reason’ even though there is no such reason.

Sorry I can’t let you have the props in time for rehearsal, I’ve had a spot of bother – quite amusing.

The ‘spot of bother’ that Gerrard calls ‘quite amusing’ is actually a life-threatening situation, where a criminal actually threatens to kill him

You have been so modest.

Here, Gerrard means that it is immodest on the part of the intruder to know so much about him without disclosing his own identity.