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
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Pronunciation French sound files [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.

Par exemple…

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.

Par exemple…

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.

French lesson plans Au contraire in action

Examples of au contraire in real-life videos from Lawless French Immersion:

Emmanuel Macron, au contraire, sort renforcé du premier tour   Emmanuel Macron, in contrast, emerged stronger in the first round
Video: France-England, Oasis, terrorism and Brexit
Pour exprimer un assentiment ou au contraire un refus   To express an assent or on the contrary a refusal
Video: France: EU election turnout highest in 25 years
Hugh Everett III n’a pas eu le prix Nobel pour avoir publié ce papier pour sa thèse, au contraire, il a abandonné la physique   Hugh Everett III didn’t get the Nobel Prize because he published this paper with his thesis, on the contrary, he abandoned physics
Video: Exploring parallel universes
Alors le gars, il ne m’a pas découragé, au contraire, parce que je suis de nature assez têtue   So the guy didn’t dishearten me, on the contrary, because I am a rather stubborn guy
Video: The African kimono

 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.

 Related lessons

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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

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