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On the Other Hand | Meaning & Synonyms

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Idioms can leave both native speakers and English language learners scratching their heads. We’re going to help clear up some confusion by teaching you what “on the other hand” means and providing synonyms you can use instead.

White text over purple background reads "Synonyms for On the Other Hand"
We’ll provide seven other ways to say “on the other hand.”
Quick Summary

On the other hand is an idiom that means “alternatively.” It introduces a perspective or opinion that contrasts with a previous statement.

  • I’m craving pizza. On the other hand, salad is a much healthier option.

A synonym you can use in place of on the other hand that fits this context is however.

  • I’m craving pizza. However, salad is a much healthier option.

If it’s not the difficult grammar rules, it’s the seemingly nonsensical expressions that make English such a difficult language to master. 

We’ll help make it a bit easier to understand by explaining what the phrase on the other hand means and providing synonyms that are more appropriate for formal settings. 

Let’s get started!

What Does “On the Other Hand” Mean?

On the other hand is an idiom that introduces a perspective, opinion, or alternative that contrasts with a previous statement. 

For example, imagine that you and a friend are deciding whether to go to New York or California for vacation. As you weigh the pros and cons of each destination, the phrase indicates that what you’re about to state is worth considering, regardless if it differs from what you just said. 

California is warmer this time of year, but on the other hand, New York is much more festive.

Remember, idioms are figurative expressions. Their meanings cannot be inferred from the literal interpretations of the individual words. For instance, the phrase “under the weather” means “feeling unwell,” but the only way to know that is through familiarization.

As for on the other hand, it’s helpful to visualize this idiom as a metaphor presenting contrasting options: one in each hand. 

Confusing? Yes. But you can still learn how to master its correct usage with guidance and practice.

Image shows two hands. One says “first option” on the palm, and the other says “second option.”
Imagine yourself presenting an option “on one hand” and another option “on the other hand.”

How To Use “On the Other Hand”

It’s worth noting that this idiom is sometimes used as part of a set: on one hand and on the other hand. 

On one hand, sunny weather during the winter seems lovely. On the other hand, I can’t imagine a snowless Christmas. 

Although it’s common to use on the other hand by itself, it’s unusual to use on one hand without the accompanying phrase.

Tacos are not my favorite food. On the other hand, I can eat pizza every day.
On one hand, tacos are not my favorite food. But I can eat pizza every day.

Additionally, when used in written contexts, on the other hand is always followed by a comma. 

The flight to New York is only three hours. On the other hand, the flight to California takes six hours. 
I have never been to California, but on the other hand, it would be nice to see my family in Brooklyn. 
Pete prefers the Los Angeles restaurant scene; on the other hand, to me, nothing beats the NYC culinary scene. 

On the other hand is typically used in casual or semiformal conversations. It’s not uncommon to hear it at work among colleagues, but it should be avoided in formal writing.

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Seven Synonyms for “On the Other Hand”

You should avoid using on the other hand in professional and academic writing. Instead, you can use any of the following alternatives:

1. Alternatively

I thought the movie was great; alternatively, Caleb said the book was much better. 

2. Conversely

The first part of the hike was easy. Conversely, the second part was more challenging than I thought it would be. 

3. However

I want to go to the park; however, the forecast predicts some rain. 

4. In contrast

Julie loves hip-hop. In contrast, her brother prefers classic rock. 

5. Nevertheless

The path was steep; nevertheless, we reached the summit safely. 

6. On the contrary

Miami is too hot during the summer. On the contrary, the weather in Maine is gorgeous! 

7. Yet

Successful entrepreneurs experience many failures, yet they continue to pursue their goals. 

In a nutshell, on the other hand is an idiom that is used to present a differing option, perspective, or opinion. Although it’s common in casual conversations, it’s best to avoid using it in formal writing.

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