Au contraire

Au contraire
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Essential French Expression

Meaning on the contrary, quite the contrary, just the opposite
Literally to the contrary
Register normal
Pronunciation [oh ko(n) trehr]
IPA   [o kɔ̃ tʀɛʀ]

Usage notes: When you want to not only deny a statement, but claim just the opposite, use the French expression au contraire as a stand-alone interjection or conjunction.

Par exemple…

Je n’ai pas besoin de ton portable ; au contraire, j’allais t’offrir le mien.
I don’t need your cellphone; on the contrary, I was going to offer you mine.
 – Tu détestes ma peinture.
 – Au contraire, elle est extraordinaire !
   – You hate my painting.
 – On the contrary, it’s extraordinary!

You can emphasize the contradiction by modifying au contraire with the adverbs bien or tout.

Il ne valorise pas les sciences, tout au contraire. He doesn’t value science, just the opposite.
 – Est-ce que tu vas abandonner le projet ?
 – Bien au contraire ! J’ai encore plein d’idées.
   – Are you going to give up on the project?
 – Quite the contrary! I still have tons of new ideas.

  Au contraire can also be used with the preposition de plus a noun or clause to mean “contrary to.” This is synonymous with à l’encontre de.

Au contraire des résultats de mon collègue, mon étude indique une amélioration perceptible.   Contrary to my colleague’s results, my study indicates a noticeable improvement.
Au contraire de ce que tu prétends, cela n’est pas le cas. Contrary to / Despite what you claim, that is not the case.

  En anglais

Au contraire has the same meaning in English, though it tends to be used ironically. It’s often playfully turned into au contraire mon frère – literally, "on the contrary, my brother." Note that you should never say this in French unless you’re actually talking to your brother.

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Au contraire

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1 Response

  1. AnonymousFrancophile 18 September 2018 / 12:34

    Feel free to say “au contraire mon frere” if you are in a French church where everybody refers to each other as brother or sister