One way to look at the oppositional or contrastive relationship is as the opposite of the additive relationship. In other words, the speaker, having mentioned one thing, wants to go on to talk about something else which contrasts with and is often in opposition to the first thing.
Conjunctions and the Oppositional or Contrastitive Relationship
The following conjunctions are used to express the oppositional/contrastive relationship:
either . . . or
As we have seen above, most conjunctions can be used to link two parallel parts of speech. The oppositional or contrastive conjunctions are no exception. Consider the following examples.
He's a student of English but not a very good one.
My neighbor's dog is large though friendly.
He plans to take either psychology or anthropology next semester.
He's tall and rich but not handsome.
The second use of conjunctions, again as noted above, is to link ideas expressed in clauses.
I gave a presentation at the conference, but it was not well-received.
The janitor washed all the windows, though he didn't do a very good job.
Psychologists are interested in individuals, whereas anthropologists study groups.
Conjunctive Adverbs and the Oppositional/Contrastive Relationship
There are several conjunctive adverbs that can be used to introduce oppositional or contrastive information, as in the list below.
on the one hand . . . on the other hand
The following sentences illustrate the use of some of these conjunctive adverbs:
Monica wanted to go skiing this weekend; however, she's changed her mind because of the weather.
On the one hand, sales have increased; on the other hand, profits have declined.
Republicans outnumber Democrats 3:1 in this county; nevertheless, Democratic candidates usually win here.
Prepositions and the Oppositional/Contrastive Relationship
There are several prepositions that are used to introduce oppositional or contrastive information:
as opposed to
in contrast to
in spite of
The following sentences illustrate the use of some of these prepositions:
He runs 25 miles a week despite having bad knees.
In contrast to some southern states, New York State has been steadily losing population over the last twenty years.
Notwithstanding his best efforts, he came in third from last.