Guide to Expressing Opposing Ideas in French

expressing opposing ideas in french

The world is a contradictory place, and that’s why we should know how to express opposing ideas in French.

Also, the French like to argue, so you better arm yourself with the proper munition.

Today, we’ll learn how to use express opposing ideas, by using coordinating and subordinating conjunctions in French. 

How to express opposition in French?

Two opposing ideas can be expressed in the same sentence as opposition. You begin first with opposing ideas.

Let’s take a look at this example.

Mon mari habite en France alors que moi j’habite en Italie.

My husband lives in France, while l live in Italy.

As a result of using the opposition, we will have more complex sentences, that have a structure similar to this one.

Sujet + verbe + object or adjective + coordinating conjuction + subject + verbe + object or adjective 

The following will explain how to use opposition connectors to express opposition.

French Coordinating and Subordinating Conjunctions

Coordination conjunction connects two or more words or phrases.

Depending on what kind of phrases it connects, we distinguish two types of conjunctions.

  • coordinating conjunctions (connect words or two equal independent phrases)
  • subordinating conjunctions (connect one independent and one subordinating phrase )

Coordinating Conjunctions

As we mentioned, coordinating conjunctions connect two completely independent phrases. If the words are equal and serve the same purpose, it doesn’t matter whether they’re adjectives, nouns, adverbs, verbs, or even independent clauses.

There are many coordinating conjunctions in French (car, donc, ensuite, et, ni, or, ou bien, plus, puis, mais), but only mais is used to express opposing ideas. The most common coordinating conjunction is mais.



En juillet, c’est l’été en Europe, mais en Australie, c’est l’hiver.

In july, it’s summer in Europe, but in Australia, it’s winter.

We have our first idea: En août, c’est l’été en France, then we place our opposition connector “mais”  and we have our second idea opposite to the first one: en Australie, c’est l’hiver.

 A comma is normally placed before the “mais” connector.

Here, you can find our Ultimate guide to French conjunctions.

Subordinating conjunctions

There are actually just a few subordinating conjunctions: comme, quand, lorsque, puisque, que, quoique, si.

There are however many examples of “conjunctive phrases” (locations conjunctive). A conjunction is a term used to describe a group of two or more words that function together. Conjunction in French usually ends in “que”.

Alors que

while, as, whereas

Je voulais manger de la pizza, alors qu’il voulait manger des pâtes.

I wanted to eat pizza, while he wanted to eat pasta.

Alors que, can also be used to express simultaneous actions.  You can learn more about it, here.

Au lieu de

instead of

Contrary to the other connectors, “Au lieu de“,  will be constructed differently. “Au lieu de“.   An infinitive verb or a noun will always follow.

  • Following a noun

 Tu peux prendre ta robe blue au lieu de ta robe vert.

You can take your blue dress, instead of a green dress.

  • following a verb in the infinitive

Lave la vaisselle au lieu de regarder la télé.

Wash the dishes, instead of watching tv.

Au lieu de pleurer, tu ferais mieux d’étudier.

Instead of crying, you better study.


contrary, adversely

Contrairement à la croyance populaire, l’Afrique est un continent en développement.

Contrary to popular culture, Africa is a continent in development.

Au contraire

rather, on the contrary, in contrast

Au contraire, on choisit plutôt des endroits difficiles.

On the contrary, we rather choose difficult places.

Cependant, toutefois

however, but, nevertheless, though

Mon train a du retard. Cependant, j’arriverai assez tôt.

My train is delayed. However, I will be there soon enough.



Indicates two ideas in opposition.

Je commence à progresser quoique le chinois soit une langue difficile.

I start to make some progress eventhough Chinese is a difficult language.

Bien que

although, while, even though

Bien que je préfère le petit dejeuner salé, je prends toujours du croissant aussi.

While I prefer a salty breakfast, I always take a croissant too.

Bien que chaud, ce plat est delicious.

Although hot this dish is delicious.

En revanche

however, in contrast

Le temps est ensoleille aujourd’hui. En revanche, il va neiger la semaine prochaine.

The weather is sunny today. However, it will snow next week.

Tandis que

while, wheras

Ma soeur est devenu la maitresse, tandis que je suis devenu ingénieur.

My sister became a teacher whereas I became an engineer.



Montre-la que tu fais confiance malgré ses difficultés.

Show that you trust her despite her difficulties.

En comparaison


L’autre vin est toujours moins bien noté en comparaison du premier.

The other wine is always a poor performer in comparison to the first.


yet, however, though, but

Il faut pourtant mesurer les dépenses.

However, the expenses must be measured.

Avoir beau

whatever, no matter what (even though) someone does/says, etc.

On a beau dire que c’était fini.

It is all very well to say it’s finished.

More expressions and conjunctions

  • Quand même – all the same.
  • Pour contre – as against
  • Comme si – as though
  • En revanche – by contrast
  • Contrairement à – contrary to.
  • Même si – even if
  • Alors même que – even though
  • Cependant, toutefois – however
  • In comparison – en comparaison
  • Malgré, en dépit de – in spite of
  • Instead of – au lieu de
  • Toutefois – nevertheless
  • Néanmoins – nonetheless
  • Malgré, néanmoins – notwithstanding
  • Au contraire – on the contrary
  • Sinon, sans quoi – otherwise
  • Pourtant – still
  • Cependant, bien que – though
  • Contrairement à – unlike
  • Tandis que – whereas
  • Tandis que, même si – while
  • Pourtant – yet

Don’t forget to practice! Here, you’ll find tons of great exercises to practice expressing opposing ideas.

Difficult but Useful

That concludes our lesson about French coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. There are so many different conjunctions you can use to express the opposite opinion in French.

It can be difficult to memorize them all, but it is possible. We believe, with practice, that every little piece comes into place. In a sentence. Of course.

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