When a person presents in his speech something that generally is good as being the absolute opposite, what do we call it?

I mean grammatically and in terms of terminology only.

  • How do feel?
  • Never been better (in a sad voice and manner when it actually should have been and stands for "Never been worse")

This example shows that "Never been better" is generally perceived as being something positive, however, is delivered as something negative.


1 Answer 1


"[I have] never been better." is not negative, either grammatically or linguistically.

Never is an adverb of frequency. Always, sometimes, ever, never.

Frequency can be positive, negative or neutral and the rest of the context is what will determine that.

I have never been better means: this is the best I have been.

"He has never been poor". [a positive situation for most people] "She has never been hiking in good, walking shoes." [a negative situation for one's feet. "They have never been good friends." [could be a neutral statement of fact]

  • I suppose you misunderstood the question. How often do you say something light when you feel darkness inside you? I do sometimes. Sep 6, 2018 at 14:57
  • 1
    No, I don't believe I did misunderstand you as written. There is simply nothing negative about it. Negative would be: I could be better. "Never been better" cannot mean "never been worse" unless you say it very sarcastically. So, that would be all about tone and intonation. So, your question is very unclear.
    – Lambie
    Sep 6, 2018 at 15:03
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    that's exactly what I meant, (in a sad voice, intentionally to show how badly you really feel) Sep 6, 2018 at 15:31
  • @SovereignSun Ok, then. Tone of voice and intonation can have more meaning that actual words.
    – Lambie
    Sep 6, 2018 at 16:02

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