Be SARCASTIC in Spanish like a Pro (and tell when others are)

Be SARCASTIC in Spanish like a Pro (and tell when others are)

Recreation of a meeting of the Spring Spanish team:

Actor 2
Paulísima, son las nueve en punto. ¡Qué sorpresa!
(It’s 9 o’clock sharp. What a surprise!)

Actor 1
¿Pero cuál sorpresa? Si yo siempre soy puntual.
(But what surprise? I’m always on time.)

Actor 2
¿Puntual? Puntualísima.
(On time? Extremely punctual.)

Actor 1
¡Qué original!
(How original!)

In Mexico and the Spanish-speaking world, sarcasm and ironic comments are commonly used in everyday conversation, often with humor.

In this lesson, we are going to explore everything you need to understand irony and being sarcastic in Spanish.

1. Being sarcastic and ironic in Mexico

Mexicans are known for their sense of humor and playful use of sarcasm. Generally, it is well received as long as it’s not hurtful or offensive. Check out this other video where we explore the Mexican sense of humor.

Sarcasm in Spanish is similar to sarcasm in English in terms of tone, context, and exaggeration use.

However, the specific phrases and idiomatic expressions used may differ. Furthermore, the tone and delivery of sarcasm can vary by region and individual. Generally, to detect sarcasm and irony, pay attention to:

  • Voice Tone: A sarcastic tone is often expressionless or exaggerated, in contrast to the usual intonation of sincere speech.

Actor 1
Susan, ¿por qué tan temprano?
(Susan, why so early?)

Actor 2
No entendí.
(I don’t understand.)

  • Facial Expressions: Although not always present, some people may accompany sarcasm with a sly smile or raised eyebrows. However, this varies from person to person.

Actor 1
Son las 9:05, ¡quedamos a las 9! ¿Qué vamos a hacer contigo? ¡SIEMPRE llegas tarde!
(It’s 9:05, we agreed on 9!) What are we going to do with you? You’re ALWAYS late!)

Actor 2
Pero… Pau… más bien… la que siempre llega tarde eres tú…
(But… Pau… rather… it’s you who’s always late…)

  • Body Language: Sometimes, body language can indicate sarcasm. A shrug or a look of disdain may suggest that the speaker is not being serious.

Actor 1
¿Yo? ¿Por qué me levantas falsos, Susan? ¿Yo cuando he llegado tarde a algo?
(Me? Why are you making false accusations, Susa? When have I ever been late to anything?)

Actor 2
Ah… ya… estás siendo sarcástica ¿no?
(Ah… right… you’re being sarcastic, aren’t you?)

  • Context: Context is key. If the statement contradicts the context or the usual behavior of the speaker, it’s a sign that sarcasm is being used.

Actor 1
No Susan, es en serio. Me molesta demasiado la impuntualidad.
(No, Susan, seriously. Tardiness really bothers me.)

Actor 2
¡Sí, claro!
(Yeah, right!)

2. Nonverbal language: pay attention to forms of expression

Remember that we must pay attention to the form of expression, not just the words.

Actor 1
¿Viste que ya terminaron de reparar la calle?
(Did you see they’ve already finished repairing the street?)

Actor 2
¿Por qué habría de sorprenderme si el gobierno local siempre arregla todos los desperfectos muy rápido?
(Why should I be surprised if the local government always fixes everything very quickly?)

Actor 1
¡Uy, sí! Súper rápido. Ni se ha terminado de hacer el bache y ya lo están reparando.
(Oh, yes! Super fast. They haven’t even finished making the pothole and they’re already repairing it.)

Actor 2
Claro, el gobierno es eficiente, eficaz y confiable. Igualito que en Suiza.
(Of course, the government is efficient, effective, and reliable. Just like in Switzerland.)

Actor 1
(Just like.)

More examples:

Actor 1
¿Dónde están?
(Where are you?)

Actor 2
¡Estamos planeando el viaje de mamá!
(We are planning mom’s trip!)

Actor 1
¿Quieren que les ayude?
(Do you want me to help you?)

Actor 2
No, tu quedate descansando.
(No, you stay resting.)

1 hora despues

Actor 2
Te ves cansada
(You look tired.)

Actor 1
En serio? Todo lo contrario? como me dijiste que me quedara a descansar, pues decanse super rico. Hasta una siestecita me eche
(Really? Quite the opposite! Since you told me to rest, I took a really nice break. I even had a little nap.)

3. Irony in Spanish writing

In Spanish, the correct way to express irony in writing is with the use of quotes, as in English. However, it is very common for people to use quotes incorrectly. Often, in Mexico, especially in makeshift signs, people write words in quotes simply to make them stand out. For example:

Show a sign that says: “Delicious” tamales for sale.

Washing machines repaired. “Guaranteed” work.

4. Useful chunks to say irony and being sarcastic in Spanish

Actor 1
¿Has hablado con Tere?
(Have you spoken to Tere?)

Actor 2
No. Bueno, no últimamente. ¿Por?
(No. Well, not recently. Why?)

Actor 1
Nada más, tengo ganas de platicar con ella. Pero sé que para eso tengo que buscarla yo, porque ella nunca me llama. Es medio mala amiga pero aún así la amo.
(Just because, I feel like chatting with her. But I know that for that to happen, I have to be the one to look for her, because she never calls me. She’s kind of a bad friend but I still love her.)

Actor 2
Mmmm mira quien lo dice.
(Hmm, look who’s talking.)

Actor 1
¿Por qué o qué?
(Why? What for?)

Actor 2
Pues es que, amiga, llevábamos dos meses sin hablar y solo estamos platicando porque yo te marqué a ti.
(Well, it’s just that, friend, we hadn’t talked for two months and we are only talking now because I called you.)

Actor 1
¡Ay, claro que no!
(Oh, of course not!)

Actor 2
¡Claro que sí! Pero bueno, no importa, con tal de platicar contigo me aguanto.
(Of course, yes! But well, it doesn’t matter, as long as I get to chat with you I can put up with it.)

Actor 1
Ay, amiga, perdón. Es que te juro que siempre tengo ganas de marcarte, pero siempre se me atraviesa algo… ay no, me está marcando mi mamá… te marco al rato, bye.
(Oh, friend, I’m sorry. It’s just that I swear I always want to call you, but something always comes up… oh no, my mom is calling me… I’ll call you back later, bye.)

Actor 2
No pues guau.
(Well, wow.)

Did you pay attention? There’s a great chunk in this conversation.

With Conversation Based Chunking™, you focus on observing real-life conversations, absorbing these chunks (high-frequency patterns) native speakers use. With this method, you discover grammar concepts after you’re already using them correctly, so the structure of the language emerges naturally in your brain.

sarcastic in spanish example chunk


Mira quien lo dice” is equivalent to “Look who’s talking.” It can also be said as:

Mira quien habla

Or even funnier:

El burro hablando de orejas” (The pot calling the kettle black).

And another chunk, very Mexican, very famous in the meme world is:

No pues guau” which is something like: “Oh, then wow!” We use it ironically when we want to express disappointment.

Guau” is the word most used to express surprise, but it’s not the only one, as we teach you in the following lesson.

Similar Posts