Sarcasm is a difference or contrast between expectations and realities in a circumstance. Irony is often only recognized well after an original statement or occurrence since it often takes current events to realize the previous remark was completely wrong.
Sarcasm is a remark that people use to say the opposite of what’s true with a purpose to amuse or hurt someone by making them feel foolish.
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Examples of Sarcasm
When you expected something to happen, especially after warning someone about it someone says, “Well, what a surprise.”
When someone says something that is very obvious: Really, Sherlock? No! You are clever.
When someone shows you beautiful photos from their vacation:
“What an awful place. I hope to go there someday.”
The person’s response is sarcastic because they are saying the opposite of what is meant to be funny.
When someone does something wrong: Very good; well done!
This is a sarcastic remark because the comeback is opposite of what the person means. It is most likely delivered in a playful voice to let the recipient know that it is meant in a teasing manner.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Alice genuinely needs to know how to get out of Wonderland when she asks the Cheshire Cat for help. While the Cat’s answers are true, they are not helpful to Alice making them sarcastic.
“What were you doing under our window, boy?”
“Listening to the news,” said Harry in a resigned voice.
“Listening to the news! Again?”
“Well, it changes every day, you see,” said Harry.
– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
In this situation, Uncle Vernon is reprimanding Harry for snooping. Vernon wants Harry to stop hanging out by the window to listen in on his conversations.
Harry’s comeback is comical because Harry states uses the word ‘news’ to point out that he must continue to snoop because the conversation or ‘news’ changes daily.
Free Sarcasm Activities
This lesson introduces students to sarcasm. This mini lesson is a vocabulary building exercise for upper elementary and middle school students.
In this mini lesson, students watch the video. The video goes over the definition and examples of sarcasm. Next students pause the video to complete either the digital or printable organizer. After completing the organizer, students continue watching the video to check their responses. This activity is a great introduction to a lesson on sarcasm.
Links to Free Resources
Activities in this free series are set up as individual lessons making them great to assign through Google Classroom. Click here to download the free activities from Google Drive. This is the digital version. Here you will find the printable version.
Want to Dig Deeper?
This blog post “But I Just Love Mondays! 3 Situational Games to Teach EFL/ESL Sarcasm” provides instructions for game activities.
Blog Post titled “How Do We Understand Sarcasm?” This post explains why it is important to teach young children and individuals with autism to recognize sarcasm.
Poster Explaining Sarcasm with Examples Have students create their own posters with examples of sarcasm. This would make a great small group activity with each student creating one section of the poster.