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Using “Conversely”

Conversely, which means “in a contrasting or opposite way,”1 is used as a signal word to indicate that the information that follows differs from or contradicts the preceding information. This adverb is based on the noun converse, which means “something reversed in order,”2 and is not related to the verb with the same spelling that means “to exchange thoughts and opinions in speech.”

At the beginning of a sentence, conversely can be used in the same way as in contrast. However, conversely implies a closer relationship between the statements that precede and follow it and is often used to indicate that when a certain factor or variable is changed, the opposite outcome occurs.


Discontinuation of immunosuppression was associated with death (71% vs 21%, p = 0.02). Conversely, all patients receiving steroids survived (p < 0.001).3

Many basketball shoes have high tops to provide ankle support. Conversely, running shoes are low cut to allow freedom of movement.

In the middle of a sentence, conversely is used to show contrast between the first and last parts of the sentence:


Cancer genetics and epigenetics are inextricably linked in generating the malignant phenotype; epigenetic changes can cause mutations in genes, and, conversely, mutations are frequently observed in genes that modify the epigenome.4

  1. Merriam-Webster. Accessed September 8, 2020.
  2. Merriam-Webster. Accessed September 8, 2020.
  3. Iacovoni A, Boffini M, Pidello S, et al. A case series of novel coronavirus infection in heart transplantation from 2 centers in the pandemic area in the North of Italy. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2020;S1053-2498(20)31617-X. doi:10.1016/j.healun.2020.06.016
  4. Baylin SB, Jones PA. Epigenetic determinants of cancer. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2016;8:a019505. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a019505
--Bryan Tutt
Image Credit: © Can Stock Photo / zimmytws
Copyright © 2020, All rights reserved. Research Medical Library, Scientific Publications Services.

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