How Do You Say “Contrary” In French?

French is a beautiful language that is spoken by millions of people around the world. Whether you are learning French for personal or professional reasons, it can be a challenging but rewarding experience. One of the most important aspects of learning a new language is expanding your vocabulary. In this article, we will explore the French translation of the word “contrary”.

The French translation of “contrary” is “contraire”. This word is used to describe something that is opposite, different, or contradictory. Understanding this word is essential for effective communication in French, as it is commonly used in both formal and informal settings.

How Do You Pronounce The French Word For “Contrary”?

Learning how to properly pronounce a word in a foreign language can be a daunting task, but it is essential for effective communication. If you’re wondering how to say “contrary” in French, we’ve got you covered. The word for “contrary” in French is “contraire” (pronounced: kon-trair).

To break it down phonetically, “kon-trair” is pronounced as follows:

  • “kon” – pronounced like the English word “cone”
  • “trair” – pronounced like the English word “tray” with an “r” sound at the end

Here are a few tips to help you nail the pronunciation of “contraire”:

  1. Focus on the “r” sound: In French, the “r” sound is pronounced differently than in English. Rather than pronouncing it with the back of the tongue, the French “r” is pronounced by vibrating the front of the tongue against the roof of the mouth. Practice this sound to get it just right.
  2. Emphasize the second syllable: In French, the emphasis is often placed on the second-to-last syllable of a word. Make sure to put a little extra oomph on the “trair” part of “contraire”.
  3. Listen to native speakers: The best way to improve your pronunciation is to listen to native speakers and mimic their intonation and inflection. Try watching French movies or listening to French music to get a feel for the language.

With a little practice and patience, you’ll be able to confidently say “contraire” like a native French speaker.

Proper Grammatical Use Of The French Word For “Contrary”

Proper grammar is essential when using the French word for “contrary” to ensure clear communication. The French language has specific rules regarding word placement, verb conjugations, and agreement with gender and number. Additionally, there are common exceptions that must be considered.

Placement In Sentences

The French word for “contrary,” contraire, is typically placed before the noun it modifies. For example:

  • Le contraire de chaud est froid. (The opposite of hot is cold.)
  • Les idées contraires peuvent coexister. (Opposing ideas can coexist.)

However, in some cases, contraire can be used after the noun it modifies for emphasis. For example:

  • La vie est belle, ou plutôt, belle est le contraire de la vie. (Life is beautiful, or rather, beautiful is the opposite of life.)

Verb Conjugations Or Tenses

The verb tense used with contraire depends on the context of the sentence. For example:

  • J’ai une opinion contraire. (I have an opposing opinion.)
  • Il a agi contrairement à mes attentes. (He acted contrary to my expectations.)

In the second example, the verb “agir” is conjugated in the past tense to match the context of the sentence.

Agreement With Gender And Number

The French language has gendered nouns, which means that the word for “contrary” must agree with the gender of the noun it modifies. For example:

  • Le point de vue contraire à la mienne. (The opposing point of view to mine.)
  • Les opinions contraires à la leur. (The opposing opinions to theirs.)

Additionally, contraire must agree with the number of the noun it modifies. For example:

  • Les points de vue contraires à la mienne. (The opposing points of view to mine.)
  • Les opinions contraires à la leur. (The opposing opinions to theirs.)

Common Exceptions

One common exception to the placement of contraire is when it is used as an adverb. In this case, it is placed after the verb it modifies. For example:

  • Il travaille contraire à mes principes. (He works contrary to my principles.)

Another exception is when using the phrase “au contraire,” which means “on the contrary.” In this case, contraire is used as an adverb and placed after the subject. For example:

  • Je ne suis pas fatigué, au contraire, je suis plein d’énergie. (I am not tired, on the contrary, I am full of energy.)

Examples Of Phrases Using The French Word For “Contrary”

When learning a new language, it’s important to understand how different words are used in context. The French word for “contrary” is “contraire,” and it can be used in a variety of phrases and expressions.

Common Phrases:

  • au contraire – on the contrary
  • contre toute attente – against all expectations
  • à l’inverse – conversely
  • à rebours – backwards
  • en sens inverse – in the opposite direction

These phrases can be used in a variety of contexts to express opposite or contrasting ideas. Here are some examples:

  • Je pensais que le film serait ennuyeux, mais au contraire, j’ai adoré. (I thought the movie would be boring, but on the contrary, I loved it.)
  • La performance de l’équipe était contre toute attente exceptionnelle. (The team’s performance was exceptional, against all expectations.)
  • Il est très timide en public, mais à l’inverse, il est très bavard en privé. (He is very shy in public, but conversely, he is very talkative in private.)
  • Le livre doit être lu à rebours pour comprendre l’histoire. (The book must be read backwards to understand the story.)
  • Si vous tournez en sens inverse, vous arriverez à la plage. (If you turn in the opposite direction, you will arrive at the beach.)

Here is an example dialogue using the French word for contrary:

Person 1: Tu ne veux pas aller au cinéma?
Person 2: Au contraire, j’aimerais beaucoup voir un film ce soir.

Person 1: Donc tu n’aimes pas les fruits?
Person 2: Contre toute attente, j’adore les fruits, surtout les fraises.

Person 1: Tu préfères les chats ou les chiens?
Person 2: À l’inverse, je préfère les chiens, je trouve qu’ils sont plus fidèles.

Person 1: Pourquoi lis-tu ce livre à l’envers?
Person 2: Je dois le lire à rebours pour comprendre l’histoire.

Person 1: Si on tourne à droite, on arrivera au centre-ville?
Person 2: En sens inverse, le centre-ville est à gauche.

More Contextual Uses Of The French Word For “Contrary”

Understanding the contextual uses of the French word for “contrary” is crucial for effective communication in the language. Here are some of the varying contexts in which the word is used:

Formal Usage

In formal settings such as academic or professional environments, the French word for “contrary” is often used in a more straightforward manner. It is commonly used to express opposition or disagreement with a statement or idea. For instance, “au contraire” is used to refute a previously stated point and introduce an opposing view.

Informal Usage

Informally, the French word for “contrary” is often used in a more playful or sarcastic manner. For example, “au contraire mon ami” is a common phrase used to jokingly disagree with a friend’s statement or opinion.

Other Contexts

Aside from formal and informal contexts, the French word for “contrary” is also used in slang, idiomatic expressions, or cultural/historical contexts. Some examples include:

  • “être à l’opposé” – to be completely different or opposite
  • “aller à l’encontre” – to go against or contradict
  • “contre toute attente” – against all expectations

Furthermore, the word has been used in popular cultural contexts such as literature and film. For instance, the French novel “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo features the character of Javert, a police officer who is the embodiment of the “contrary” in his unwavering pursuit of Jean Valjean.

Regional Variations Of The French Word For “Contrary”

Just like any language, French has regional variations that can affect vocabulary and pronunciation. This is also true for the French word for “contrary,” which can differ depending on the country or region where it is spoken.

Usage In Different French-speaking Countries

The French language is spoken in many countries around the world, and each country has its own unique dialect and vocabulary. For example, in Canada, the French word for “contrary” is “contraire,” which is the same as in France. However, in Belgium, the word is “contraire” as well, but it is pronounced with a slightly different accent than in France.

In Switzerland, the French word for “contrary” is “contraire” as well, but it is often used in combination with the German word “gegen” to form “gegenpart,” which means “contrary party” or “opposition.”

In African countries such as Senegal and Ivory Coast, the French word for “contrary” is “contraire” as well, but it is often used in combination with local phrases and idioms that are unique to those regions.

Regional Pronunciations

While the word “contraire” is used in many French-speaking countries, the pronunciation can vary depending on the region. In France, the word is pronounced with a silent “r” at the end, while in Canada, the “r” is pronounced. In Belgium, the word is pronounced with a slightly different accent than in France, and in African countries, the pronunciation can vary depending on the local dialect.

Here is a table that summarizes the regional variations of the French word for “contrary”:

Country/Region Word for “Contrary” Pronunciation
France Contraire Con-trair
Canada Contraire Con-trai-re
Belgium Contraire Con-trè-re
Switzerland Contraire Con-trair
African countries Contraire Varies depending on local dialect

Other Uses Of The French Word For “Contrary” In Speaking & Writing

While “contraire” is most commonly used to mean “contrary” or “opposite,” it can also have other meanings depending on context. Here are a few examples:

1. In Mathematics

In mathematics, “contraire” can be used to mean “converse.” This refers to the statement that results from switching the hypothesis and conclusion of a conditional statement. For example, the converse of “If it rains, the ground gets wet” is “If the ground gets wet, it rains.”

2. In Law

In legal contexts, “contraire” can be used to mean “against.” For example, if a witness testifies “contraire à la vérité,” it means they are testifying against the truth.

3. In Philosophy

In philosophy, “contraire” can be used to mean “contrary” in the sense of being diametrically opposed to something. This is different from “contradictory,” which means simply being incompatible or logically inconsistent with something. For example, the statement “All cats are mammals” is not contradictory to the statement “All dogs are mammals,” but it is contrary to the statement “No cats are mammals.”

To distinguish between these different uses of “contraire,” it’s important to pay attention to the context in which the word is being used. In mathematical contexts, “contraire” will likely be used in relation to conditional statements or logic. In legal contexts, it will likely be used in relation to evidence or testimony. And in philosophical contexts, it will likely be used in relation to arguments or propositions.

Common Words And Phrases Similar To The French Word For “Contrary”

Synonyms And Related Terms

There are several common French words and phrases that can be used to convey a similar meaning to “contrary.” One such word is “opposé,” which translates to “opposite” in English. Another option is “contraire,” which can also be translated as “opposite” or “contrary.”

Other related terms include “inverse,” which means “inverse” or “reverse,” and “à l’encontre,” which can be translated as “against” or “contrary to.”

These words and phrases can be used in a variety of contexts to convey a sense of opposition or difference.

Usage And Differences

While these words and phrases are similar in meaning to “contrary,” they can be used in slightly different ways. For example, “opposé” is often used to describe physical opposites, such as two objects that are facing each other or two colors that are opposite on the color wheel.

“Contraire,” on the other hand, is more commonly used to describe a difference in opinion or belief. For example, you might say “Son opinion est contraire à la mienne” to mean “His opinion is contrary to mine.”

“Inverse” is used to describe a reversal or flip-flop of something, while “à l’encontre” is used to describe something that goes against the norm or expectation.


The antonyms for “contrary” in French include “semblable,” which means “similar” or “alike,” and “identique,” which means “identical.” These words can be used to describe things that are similar or the same, rather than different or opposite.

Word/Phrase Translation Usage
opposé opposite Physical opposites
contraire contrary/opposite Difference in opinion/belief
inverse inverse/reverse Reversal/flip-flop
à l’encontre against/contrary to Against the norm/expectation

Mistakes To Avoid When Using The French Word For “Contrary”

When it comes to using the French word for “contrary,” non-native speakers often make common mistakes that can lead to confusion and miscommunication. One of the most common errors is using the word “contraire” instead of “contrairement.” While “contraire” is a valid French word, it is an adjective that means “opposite” or “contrary” in a descriptive sense. On the other hand, “contrairement” is an adverb that means “contrary to” or “in opposition to” in a more active sense.

Another mistake is using the word “au contraire” too liberally. This phrase is actually quite formal and is typically reserved for more formal or academic settings. Using it in casual conversation can come across as pretentious or insincere.

Highlight These Mistakes And Provide Tips To Avoid Them.

To avoid these common mistakes when using the French word for “contrary,” it’s important to remember the following tips:

– Use “contrairement” instead of “contraire” when you want to express an active sense of opposition or contradiction.
– Reserve the use of “au contraire” for more formal or academic settings, and avoid using it in casual conversation.
– Be mindful of the context in which you are using the word “contrary.” In some cases, it may be more appropriate to use a different word or phrase to convey your intended meaning.

By following these tips, you can avoid common mistakes and use the French word for “contrary” more effectively in your conversations and writing.


In this blog post, we have explored the various ways to say “contrary” in French. We began by discussing the most common word, “contraire,” which can be used in a variety of contexts. We then delved into the nuances of “opposé” and “à l’inverse,” which can be more specific in meaning.

We also explored some lesser-known synonyms for “contrary,” such as “antithétique” and “antinomique,” which are more complex and academic in nature. Finally, we touched on the importance of context when choosing which word to use, as well as the importance of practicing and using these words in real-life conversations.

Encouragement To Practice

Learning a new language can be challenging, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. By expanding our vocabulary and learning new words and phrases, we can better communicate with others and gain a deeper understanding of different cultures.

So, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, we encourage you to practice using the French word for “contrary” in your everyday conversations. Whether you’re discussing politics, art, or simply expressing your opinion, these words can help you better express yourself and engage in meaningful dialogue with others.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority and He’s a seasoned innovator, harnessing the power of technology to connect cultures through language. His worse translation though is when he refers to “pancakes” as “flat waffles”.