The French sentence "Bien au contraire" explained

Ready to learn all the things you want to know about the basic sentence “Bien au contraire”?

To be more precise, this includes a full guide of what it is and how you can use it in a dialogue with an audio example. And because we want you to learn efficiently, we also sprinkled useful things like dialogue example, synonym, slow pronunciation audio and more!

Oh and in case you are interested, you will find more of these sentences tutorials on this page and the complete directory of all our French words pages on this page. Wish you a happy learning!

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Translation in English

How to pronounce it?

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does bien au contraire mean?


This formal interjection is very useful if you need to deny a statement and claim the exact opposite. It’s translated as “Quite the contrary“.

How to use

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

Someone asks you if you are anxious, then you might say: “Bien au contraire” (Quite 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: “Bien au contraire, je suis détendu(e)” (Quite the contrary, 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 and similarities

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

Example in a story with translation

Now, let’s see a complete example of this idiom in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
Rémi:   Pourquoi tu as l’air si énervée ?
Why do you look so upset?
Karine:   Je suis énervée à cause de mon travail.
I’m upset about my job.
Rémi:   Pourquoi ? Trop de travail ?
Why? Too much work?
Karine:   Non, il y a une collègue qui m’énerve beaucoup.
No, there is a colleague who annoys me a lot.
Rémi:   Pourquoi ? Elle est méchante avec toi ?
Why? Is she mean to you?
Karine:   Non, bien au contraire. Elle est trop gentille.
No, quite the contrary. She’s too nice.
Rémi:   Ce n’est pas une bonne chose ?
Isn’t that a good thing?
Karine:   Dans certaines situations oui, mais pas ici.
In some situations yes, but not here.
Rémi:   De quoi tu parles ?
What are you talking about?
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