Par contre

Controversial French Expression

Par contre
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Meaning on the other hand, whereas, but
Literally by against
Register normal, informal
Pronunciation French sound files [par ko(n)tr]
IPA   [paʀ kɔ̃tr]

Usage notes: While French experts disagree* on how and when to use the French expression par contre, no one can deny that it’s very common in spoken French.

The generally accepted usage is to contrast two related statements or ideas, the second of which weakens or ruins the first.

Par exemple…

Chouette, il y a dĂ©jĂ  trois rĂ©ponses Ă  mon article ! Par contre, elles sont nĂ©gatives.   Yay, there are already three responses to my article! On the other hand, they’re negative.
Les rĂ©sultats semblent prometteurs. Par contre, l’Ă©chantillon n’est pas reprĂ©sentatif.   The results seem promising. On the other hand, the sample is not representative (of the population)
J’aime bien Dominique, par contre HervĂ© me fatigue.   I like Dominique, whereas HervĂ© annoys me.
C’est top ce robot, par contre ça coĂ»te cher.   This blender is great, but it’s expensive.

Par contre is also sometimes used when the second clause is supportive or otherwise adds to the first, compensating for its faults. This is the controversial usage for which en revanche is proposed as the correct alternative.

Par exemple…

Les rĂ©sultats semblent prometteurs, par contre en revanche l’Ă©tude n’est pas encore terminĂ©.   The results seem promising, but the study isn’t done yet.
C’est top ce robot, par contre en revanche celui de Robert coĂ»te moins cher.   This blender is great, but Robert’s is less expensive.

Or even a simple mais:

Dominique est intelligent, par contre mais HervĂ© est plus bavard.   Dominique is smart, but HervĂ© is chattier.
C’est top ce robot, par contre mais celui de Robert coĂ»te moins cher.   This blender is great, but Robert’s is less expensive.

 It’s a bit like the difference between Ă  cause de, which introduces negative and neutral situations, and grâce Ă , which is reserved for positive outcomes.

French lesson plans Par contre in action

Examples of par contre in real-life videos from Lawless French Immersion:

Ah non la chaise ça ne va pas du tout par contre.   Oh no, the chair isn’t good at all.
Video: If the President were a YouTuber
Par contre, pour aller Ă  l’abbaye c’est dix euros si tu as plus de 25 ans   However, you have to pay 10 euros to go to the abbey if you are over 25
Video: A Day at Mont Saint-Michel
Bon par contre, il n’y a pas d’ascenseur, il ne faut pas abuser non plus.   Well on the other hand, there is no elevator, let’s not go too far.
Video: Emily in Paris… as seen by a Parisian
Mais ça je pense par contre que c’est un point ….   But I think however that this is a point ….
Video: Youth and politics: CĂ©lestine, 21
Mais ça par contre, le moment sur le terrain avec la coupe, c’est fabuleux.   But that however, that moment on the field with the Cup, it’s fabulous.
Video: Zidane remembers World Cup victory
C’est aussi, par contre, sans doute l’Ă©chec ….   It is also, on the other hand, probably the failure ….
Video: Marine Le Pen keeps falling in opinion polls

 * See Le pour et le contre de « par contre Â»

 Related lessons

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Par contre

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