For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Contrast (linguistics).

Contrast (linguistics)

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Contrast" linguistics – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

In semantics, contrast is a relationship between two discourse segments.[citation needed]

On contrast

Contrast is often overtly marked by markers such as but or however, such as in the following examples:

  1. It's raining, but I am not taking an umbrella.
  2. We will be giving a party for our new students. We won't, however, be serving drinks.
  3. The student knew about the test on Friday, but still he did not study.

In the first clause, It's raining implies that the speaker knows the weather situation and so will prepare for it, while the second clause I am not taking an umbrella implies that the speaker will still get wet. Both clauses (or discourse segments) refer to related situations, or themes, yet imply a contradiction. It is this relationship of comparing something similar, yet different, that is believed to be typical of contrastive relations. The same type of relationship is shown in (2), where the first sentence can be interpreted as implying that by giving a party for the new students, the hosts will serve drinks. This is, of course, a defeasible inference based on world knowledge, that is then contradicted in the following sentence.

The majority of the studies done on contrast and contrastive relations in semantics has concentrated on characterizing exactly which semantic relationships could give rise to contrast. Earliest studies in semantics also concentrated on identifying what distinguished clauses joined by and from clauses joined by but.

In discourse theory, and computational discourse, contrast is a major discourse relation, on par with relationship like explanation or narration, and work has concentrated on trying to identify contrast in naturally produced texts, especially in cases where the contrast is not explicitly marked.

In morphology, 'contrast' is identified, when two linguistic elements occur in the same environment(s), and replacing one with the other creates a difference in meaning.[1] Two elements that contrast in identical environments make a minimal pair.


  1. ^ Kroeger, Paul (2005). Analyzing Grammar: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-521-01653-7.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Contrast (linguistics)
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?