Words Students Confuse: On the contrary and In contrast

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On the contrary and In contrast

These two expressions are used to present additional information in a sentence. They do not have the same meaning, though, and students need to be careful about using them.

On the contrary means "opposite, the reverse." For example, "The teacher has a reputation for being mean, but on the contrary the students found her to be warm and kind." Or, "I thought she was a vegetarian, but on the contrary, I discovered she raises quail and chickens for meat and eggs." On the contrary often includes an idea of the first statement being false or incorrect.

In contrast is used to compare two items, and is usually followed by a preposition such as "to" or "with". For example, "This camp has a bath house and cooking facilities in contrast to the other one we saw, where you can only cook over a fire." Or "My trip to Berlin went smoothly from start to finish in contrast with my trip to Brussels when I lost my passport."

Choose the correct expression for the following sentences:

1. To reach our country house you need a car, _____________________ our city apartment which can be reached using public transportation.

2. I really liked the plot of the film, but _______________________ many critics said that it was very poorly written.

3. Apples and potatoes can be stored all winter in a cool, dry place; ____________________ pears which need to be eaten quickly once they are ripe.

4. The computer program was supposed to help us to work faster, but ________________________ we are wasting time trying to learn how it works.

5. The mechanic ordered the part on line because the picture looked correct, but when it arrived _____________________ it was far too small.

Click here for the correct answers:

1. To reach our country house you need a car, in contrast with our city apartment which can be reached using public transportation.

2. I really liked the plot of the film, but on the contrary many critics said that it was very poorly written.

3. Apples and potatoes can be stored all winter in a cool, dry place; in contrast to pears which need to be eaten quickly once they are ripe.

4. The computer program was supposed to help us to work faster, but on the contrary we are wasting time trying to learn how it works.

5. The mechanic ordered the part on line because the picture looked correct, but when it arrived on the contrary it was far too small.

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