I usually use the locution « rien que ça » in an affirmative sentence to emphasise what seems like an over-the-top remark. I'd say something like:

Il est peut-être légèrement moins grand que Trump, mais c'est à s'y méprendre ! On dirait des jumeaux, rien que ça !

But I just heard one of my colleagues using it as an interrogative sentence, which pulled me up short.

{I said}: Ils sont diamétralement opposés, je savais qu’ils se disputeraient de temps en temps !

{My colleague replied}: Diamétralement opposés ? Rien que ça ?

I wonder if I should interpret its meaning somewhat differently from when it is used in the affirmative? I assume my colleague wanted to say:

I don't think they are so different as to be polar opposites.

How would you use this expression in the interrogative like this in other examples?

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    I think it’s possible to interpret your colleague’s response as merely playfully/sarcastically calling you out on your hyperbolic choice of words w/out necessarily assuming that s/he doesn't totally agree (maybe even more so) with what you just said: “Polar opposites? Are you sure they’re not even more different than that?” (s/he asked sarcastically, knowing full well that would be technically impossible). Anyway I agree w/ @Kerkyra that it’s like asking sarcastically “C’est tout?” or “Pas plus?” as one might respond to Ms Moffatt's Je veux tout.
    – Papa Poule
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


The sense is the same in your affirmative and in your interrogative examples: "rien que ça" is used in a ironical way, to point out an overstatement. The interrogative form emphasises the doubt about your choice of words "diamétralement opposés", in quite the same way that an exclamative sentence would.

{Person 1} Mon fils vient de s'acheter une Porsche.

{Person 2} Une Porsche, rien que ça !


{Person 1} Mon fils vient de s'acheter une Porsche.

{Person 2} Une Porsche, rien que ça ?

carry the same meaning. You can use the interrogative or exclamative form to express the surprise.

I guess the difference is that you can also use the interrogative form with a non-ironical meaning, for example with a genuine surprise:

{Person 1} Je vais prendre une petite salade.

{Person 2} Une petite salade ? Rien que ça ?

In this case, you could also use the expression "C'est tout ?". Recognizing the meaning would rely on the context. I think your colleague was ironic, unless you really were understating it with "diamétralement opposés"?

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    Well the exclamative can also be used in a non-ironical way. Qu'est-ce que tu veux ? Rien que ça ! Commented May 10, 2017 at 13:09

I am not sure of the meaning of your colleague's sentence; depending on his opinion in fact.
In my opinion, in the sentence "Diamétralement opposés ? Rien que ça ?", I think this means "That much ?"
Maybe your colleague thinks they are not that much "Diamétralement opposés".


This can be a way to say that they are more than "Diamétralement opposés", then this would mean "Only ?" ; a way to underline what you have just said.

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