French phrase: Par contre

“Par Contre”: French Phrases to Express Contrast

You've probably noticed French speakers use "par contre" all the time. The phrase means "on the other hand" or "however." It introduces a contrast or opposition to what was previously mentioned.

"Je n'aime pas trop la plage. Par contre, j'adore la montagne."

I don't like the beach that much. On the other hand, I love the mountains.

It can also be used to express a differing or opposing point of view.

"Elle est très sympa."
"C'est vrai, mais par contre, elle n'est pas très généreuse!"

She is very nice.
That's true, but on the other hand, she's not very generous!

Using "par contre" to soften a harsh comment

In everyday colloquial French, "par contre" is sometimes used as a way to soften a or negative or limiting statement, without directly contradicting something that was said before.

In these colloquial cases, "par contre" generally has the meaning of "actually":

(Elle choisit une robe:) "Par contre, je n'aime pas trop cette couleur..."

(While choosing a dress:) Actually, I don't really like this color...

"Par contre madame, on ferme dans 5 minutes."

Actually ma'am, we close in 5 minutes.

Alternative: "ceci dit"

"Ceci dit" can translate to "that said" or "that being said":

"Il fait beau aujourd'hui. Ceci dit, il risque de pleuvoir demain."

The weather is nice today. That being said, it might rain tomorrow.

Alternative: "en revanche"

"En revanche" means "on the other hand" or "in contrast." Like "par contre", it is used to introduce a statement that contrasts with or opposes the previous statement.

"Je n'aime pas le café, en revanche, j'adore le thé."

I don't like coffee. On the other hand, I love tea.

This is equivalent to saying "Je n'aime pas le café, par contre, j'adore le thé."

Alternative: "d'un autre côté"

"D'un autre côté" means "on the other hand" or "from another perspective." It can typically be used interchangeably with "par contre", "ceci dit", or "en revanche".

"Ce travail est bien payé, mais d'un autre côté, il est très stressant."

This job is well-paid, but on the other hand, it is very stressful.

Alternative: "cependant" ou "néanmoins"

"Cependant" and "néanmoins" can translate to "however", "nevertheless", or "nonetheless".

"Il pleut beaucoup, cependant, il fait chaud."

It is raining a lot. However, it is warm.

This is similar to using "par contre" but slightly more formal. "Par contre" is less formal and commonly used in spoken French. "Par contre" also emphasizes a contrast more strongly than "cependant".

"Néanmoins" is even more formal than "cependant" and typically used in writen French.

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