on the contrary/quite the opposite

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ticcota, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. ticcota Senior Member


    Do the expression "on the contrary" and "quite the opposite" have the different meaning? For example:

    1. "The new policy haven't helped the economy come back on track, but on the contrary, it has very damaging effect now."

    2. "The new policy haven't helped the economy come back on track, but quite the opposite, it has very damaging effect now."

    Do these two sentences both sound idiomatic and mean the same thing?

    Thank you.
  2. sandpiperlily

    sandpiperlily Senior Member

  3. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    They do mean the same, but idiomatic use, in my experience, would omit the "but" in the first one: ...hasn't helped the economy come back on track; on the contrary, ...

    (I've indicated minor grammatical changes to make the parts of the sentences consistent: the first part of each sentence, like the second, has a singular subject; and the second, like the first, should use present perfect. And "now" is unnecessary.)
  4. Dunno123 Senior Member

    I've just read in Longman Dictionary:

    on the contrary/quite the contrary = used to add to a negative statement, to disagree with a negative statement by someone else, or to answer no to a question
    Example: ‘Are they happy?’ ‘No, no, quite the contrary.’

    I'm wondering if it's really possible to use "on the contrary" instead of "quite the contrary" in the previous sentence, as an answer to a question without adding another statement ("No, no, on the contrary.").
    I would say either: "No, no, quite the contrary." or something like: "No, no, on the contrary, they are sad and unfortunate..."

    Thank you very much for your answers.

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