preparing for the 'oposiciones': antonyms

We give this name to two words which have opposite meanings: true/false. I include under this heading the three different types of antonyms distinguished by some linguists: gradable, non-gradable and reversive.
Gradable antonyms can be used in comparative constructions: bigger/smaller than , and the negative of one member of the pair does not necessarily imply the other: if sb. is less rich than another, for example, it does not necessarily follow that he is poor. The same can be said of practically all pairs of adjectives: thin/thick, wide/narrow; tall/short, long/short, heavy/light, strong/weak, clean/dirty, etc.
Non-gradable antonyms are not normally used in comparative constructions, and the negative of one member of the pair does imply the other: a person, for instance, is either dead or alive, asleep or awake, innocent or guilty, male or female, you can either pass or fail an exam, be either present or absent at a meeting, something you say is either true or false, etc.
In reversive pairs one word is not really the negative of the other, the meaning being ‘(do) the reverse of’: to dress/to undress, dressed/naked, to buy/to sell, teacher/student, husband/wife, etc. This division, however, is not a clear-cut one, and is often subject to interpretation. Thus, we can say, for instance, that someone is half-asleep, more dead than alive, etc.

Finally, we should take into account that the antonym of some words may vary depending on the context where the word is used, e.g. the antonym of dry (seco) is wet (húmedo, mojado) generally, but sweet (dulce) if we are talking about a wine.


Give antonyms for the following words:

elementary level

1.- lucky (afortunado)
2.- easy (fácil)
3.- expensive (caro)
4.- patient (paciente)
5.- harmful (perjudicial, dañino)
6.- sweet (dulce - sabor)
7.- honest (honrado) 
8.- polite (cortés)

intermediate level

9.- noisy (ruidoso)
10.- safe (seguro)
11.- busy (ocupado)
12.- loose (holgada - ropa)
13.- generous (generoso, espléndido)
14.- deep (profundo, hondo)
15.- sharp (afilado)
16.- lively (animado)

upper intermediate level

17.- accidental (fortuito)
18.- severe (severo)
19.- willing (dispuesto a hacer algo)
20.- peaceable (pacífico)
21.- rough (agitado - el mar)
22.- drowsy (adormecido)
23.- good-humoured (de buen humor)
24.- naive (ingenuo)


1.- unlucky (desafortunado, desgraciado)
2.- difficult/hard (difícil)
3.- inexpensive/cheap (barato)
4.- impatient (impaciente)
5.- harmless (inofensivo)
6.- bitter (amargo)
7.- dishonest (deshonesto)
8.- impolite (descortés)
9.- quiet (tranquilo)
10.- unsafe (inseguro)
11.- idle, unoccupied (desocupado)
12.- tight (ajustada)
13.- mean (tacaño, mezquino)
14.- shallow (poco profundo)
15.- blunt (romo)
16.- dull (aburrido, soso, pesado)
17.- intentional (intencionado)
18.- lenient (benévolo)
19.- reluctant, unwilling (reacio, reticente)
20.- bellicose, belligerent  (belicoso, beligerante)
21.- calm (tranquilo, en calma)
22.- wakeful (despierto, alerta)
23.- grumpy/bad-tempered/ill-tempered (malhumorado)
24.- sophisticated, worldly (sofisticado, mundano)

4 comentarios :

  1. Very good excercise, Paco, congratulations.

    Now, my answers to some questions have another possible answer or answers besides the one or one or ones provided, so I would appreciate it if you could correct mine and explain the reason why they are not or cannot be acceptable:

    Exercise no. 21 ROUGH - still (my answer)
    no. 22 DROWSY - alert
    no. 24 NAÏVE - smart, clever, cocky

    That's all for now, thanks.

  2. Hello, Carmen. Thank you for your nice words. Here are my answers to your queries:
    In 22, alert is a perfectly valid alternative to wakeful.
    In 21, still can also be an alternative to calm, but it is normally used in attributive position (still waters, a still sea, etc.) for the predicative position, calm is preferred.
    In 24, smart, clever and cocky have other connotations which don't make them acceptable as antonyms for naïve: smart and clever are the opposite of stupid, for example, and cocky, of modest or diffident.I hope my answers can be of some use to you.

  3. Hi, many thanks for your answers, they are of great help. Have a nice weekend.


  4. I'm glad my answers were of help. I wish you a nice weekend too.