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"By contrast" versus "conversely"

G e n e r a l W r i t i n g a n /d" B G
y r c ao m
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" c o n v e r s e l y "
G e n e r a l W r i t i n g
a n d G r a m m Expert:
a r John Zalewski - 3/26/2006
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John, can you help me out with a synonym for "by contrast"? For example, if I was
saying in one sentence that a research study pointed out one conclusion in one
study, but in the next sentence I wanted to point out that the exact opposite
conclusion was reached by another study, what are a few of my best options for
starting that second sentence? "By contrast..." seems like one way. I personally like
using the phrase "Conversely..." but now that I read the definition on various
Internet sites, I see that "conversely" really might only best apply when there is a
change in relationship between one another thing ("All mothers are women.
CONVERSELY, not all women are mothers.") Is it inappropriate for me to use the
word "conversely" when saying something like this: "Smith's research showed that
smoking does not cause cancer. CONVERSELY, multiple subsequent research
studies have shown that smoking does indeed cause cancer." Please let me know
your thoughts on this. THANKS!
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I can offer synonyms to use instead
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Answer
Hello, Jane.

I do not think it would be appropriate to use the word


'conversely' in your sentence.
In your first example, mothers are first compared to women. Of course, all mothers are women. Then it's switched, and women are compared to
mothers. It's the opposite. Now we're asking if all women are mothers, and the answer is no. That's why the word 'conversely' is used. An opposite
'answer' must be found.
In your smoking sentences, you first compared smoking to cancer. For the second sentence to be written with the word 'conversely,' it'd have to say
"Conversely, multiple...have shown that cancer does not cause smoking."
One synonym you can use is 'contrary,' as in 'on the contrary, multiple studies have shown that smoking does indeed cause cancer.'
Regards,
John

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