All about the French sentence "Au contraire"

Get ready to find out everything you have to know about the basic French phrase “Au contraire”.

It includes a complete explanation of what it is and how to use it in a dialogue with an audio example. As well as the useful informations we added like slow pronunciation audio, synonym, dialogue example and more!

Oh and in case you are interested, on this page you will find more of these phrases tutorials and the ultimate list of all our French words content on this page. Ready to learn? Let’s go!

Table of Contents

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French to English

How to pronounce it

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does au contraire mean?

Definition

This interjection is very useful want you need to deny a statement and claim the exact opposite. It’s translated as “On the contrary” but “Just the opposite” and “Quite the contrary” are fine too.

It’s neutral so you can use it in every situation (family, friends, work, etc.)

How to use it

Let’s see how you can use it through little examples:

Someone asks you if you are anxious, then you might say: “Au contraire” (On the contrary). This implies that you are actually relaxed and not anxious.

Now if you want to make it more clear, you can justify why it’s not true right after, in our example it would be: “Au contraire, je suis détendu(e)” (On the contrary, I’m relaxed)

Another way to highlight the contradiction is to use the adverb “tout” or “bien” before the interjection: “Bien au contraire, je suis détendu” or “Tout au contraire, je suis détendu” (Just/Totally the opposite, I’m relaxed).

Finally, there is another possible use; add the preposition “de” after “au contraire” to change the meaning into: “Contrary to“. For example: “Au contraire de ce que tu penses, je suis détendu” (Contrary to what you think, I’m relaxed).

Fun fact

“Au contraire” also exists in English, and even better, they have a rhyme with it: “Au contraire mon frère” (On the contrary my brother). 

But we don’t use the last version in French… except if talking to our brother. Which doesn’t even need to be the case in English, because it’s just for the pun and the rhyme.

Synonyms

  • Tout au contraire. (“Totally the opposite“)
  • Bien au contraire. (“Just the opposite“)
  • Contrairement. (“Contrarily“)
  • A contrario. (“On the contrary“)
  • À l’inverse. (“Quite the contrary“)

Audio dialogue example

Audio dialogue from French people

Dialogue audio

Dialogue text

” Je n’aime pas ma nouvelle coiffure “
” I don’t like my new haircut “
” Au contraire, ça te va super bien ! “
” On the contrary, it suits you very well! “
” Merci “
” Thank you “
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