Dear MrPedantic,
Thank you so much for your explanation.
Your point reminds me of the ironic use of some words I heard on TV when I was watching films. For example, when people use words such as "interesting", "lovely" etc. I could see the speakers didn't mean what they were saying from the expressions on people's facial expression but I didn't know I can judge it from the intonation. Now I have learned a way to see what a speaker means. However, since the native speakers sometimes fail to interpret ironic statements my chances of interpreting them would be small. Anyhow I'll try.

Jiang
Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
Sorry for the confusion, Jiang!

Here's an example (modified from Google) of the non-ironic use of "kind":

1. How very kind it was of Mark to give up his Sunday to show us round the town!

i.e. "Mark was very kind: he spent his Sunday showing us the town".

And here's an example of the ironic kind (again, modified from Google):

2. How very kind of him to try to destroy the morale of our soldiers.

Literally, this means "he is very kind: he is trying to destroy the morale of our soldiers". However, the statement is ironic: the speaker doesn't think it "kind" at all (naturally, he would not want the morale of the soldiers to be "destroyed").

Usually, ironic statements of this kind are spoken in a special "ironic" tone of voice. For instance, sentence #1 would have a generally "upward" intonation, to denote "pleased surprise and gratitude". However, sentence #2 would have a generally "downward" intonation.

If the statement is written, however, only the context will tell you if it is ironic or not.

(Moreover, native speakers often misinterpret ironic statements: sometimes the speaker will have to point out the irony!)

All the best,

MrP