An ELT Glossary : Converse Antonyms

  • Definition : Pairs of "opposites" in which one term implies the other. 

  • Examples : 
          lend-borrow : if I lend you something, then you borrow it.
          parent -child : if I am your parent, then you are my child. 
          above - below : if X is above Y then Y is below X. 

  • Can cause problems for students if their own language does not have the distinction. Eg Italian prestare = both lend and borrow

  • Adjectives like fast and slow are gradable rather than converse, so not fast does not necessarily mean slow. However, their comparative forms are converse - if you are faster than me, then I am slower than you.

Related Reading

McCarthy, M. 1990, Vocabulary, OUP

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