Do you know how to connect two contrasting ideas using although, even though, in spite of and despite?

Look at these examples to see how although, even though, in spite of and despite are used.

Although we don't agree, I think she's a brilliant speaker.
Even though we don't agree, I think she's a brilliant speaker.
In spite of the law, people continue to use mobile phones while driving.
Despite the law, people continue to use mobile phones while driving.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

'in spite of', 'despite', 'although', 'even though' and 'though': Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Although, even though, in spite of and despite are all used to link two contrasting ideas or show that one fact makes the other fact surprising. They can all be used at the beginning or in the middle of the sentence. 

Despite the rain, we enjoyed the festival.
We enjoyed the festival, despite the rain.

The main difference between although, even though, in spite of and despite is that they are used with different structures. 

in spite of / despite

After in spite of and despite, we use a noun, gerund (-ing form of a verb) or a pronoun.

They never made much money, in spite of their success.
In spite of the pain in his leg, he completed the marathon.
Despite having a headache, I had a great birthday.
The train was cancelled. In spite of that, we arrived on time.

Note that it is common to use in spite of and despite with the expression the fact that, followed by a subject and verb.

In spite of the fact that he worked very hard, he didn't pass the exam.
Despite the fact that he worked very hard, he didn't pass the exam.

although / even though

After although and even though, we use a subject and a verb. Even though is slightly stronger and more emphatic than although.

I enjoyed the course, although I would have liked more grammar practice.
Although we saw each other every day, we didn't really know each other.
Even though she spoke very quietly, he understood every word.
She didn't get the job, even though she had all the necessary qualifications.

though

Though can be used in the same way as although

Though I wasn't keen on the film, I thought the music was beautiful.

Though can also go at the end of the second phrase. This way of expressing contrasting ideas is most common in spoken English.

We waited ages for our food. The waiter was really nice, though.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

'in spite of', 'despite', 'although', 'even though' and 'though': Grammar test 2

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

Why is there not a difference between 'in spite of' and 'despite', I'm not sure if I've just always known this wrong but they have different meanings to me.
I thought 'in spite of' meant that you were doing something because of the other thing.
For example, if you were doing something in spite of the law, you are doing it because you are purposely trying to break the law.
Whereas, I thought despite meant you are doing something regardless of the other thing.
For example, if you are doing something despite the law, even though you know its illegal you do it anyway, but you are not doing it because you want to break the law.
I'm not sure how well I explained myself here but I think my confusion comes from the word 'spite'. If doing something 'out of spite' means you are doing it out of annoyance, I guess I just thought that 'in spite' meant a similar thing. I'm honestly just still confused, saying something like "The train was cancelled. In spite of that, we arrived on time" just doesn't right to me because you didn't arrive on time because you were annoyed about the train being cancelled.

Hello emma charles

'spite', a kind of feeling, is something quite different from the word 'spite' in the phrase 'in spite of'.

Perhaps in some varieties of English, there is a difference in meaning between 'in spite of' and 'despite', but as far as I know, they are synonyms in standard British English. It might be useful to check several dictionaries to see what they indicate.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
I am having trouble choosing the right words to fill this blank:"If you sell your house before the end of this month, your taxes will be reduced by almost 30 percent …………..the sale of your home." I have to choose between despite and regardless of. But as far as my knowledge goes, these 2 words used quite similarly. Can you point out the difference between them?
Thankyou so much.
Wish you have a nice weekend^^

Hello Quynh Nhu,

Despite and regardless of are both followed by nouns (or gerunds) but there is a difference in the meaning.

Despite is used to show a contrast. If we say A happened despite B, then we mean that normally B would stop A or make it less likely. For example:

I got a loan from the bank despite not having a job.

Normally, not having a job would stop me from getting a bank loan, so the contrast/surprise is clear.

 

Regardless of does not show a contrast in the same way. Instead, it shows that a piece of information had no effect. For example:

She won't like you regardless of how nice you are.

Here, the sentence means 'it doesn't matter how nice you are, she still won't like you'. It doesn't tell us whether or not you are nice, just that it won't make any difference.

If we use despite then the meaning changes:

She won't like you despite how nice you are/

Now we know that you are nice, but it is not enough to make her like you.

 

In your example, I think both forms make sense. The choice is really dependent on the facts of the legal/taxation system and the expectations these create rather than the grammar of the sentence. If selling your house would make you expect to pay higher taxes then despite makes sense. If not, then regardles of would be more likely.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter M,
THANKYOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR DETAILED ANSWER. I FEEL SO RELEASED WHEN KNOWING THAT I HAVE YOUR SUPPORT ON MY WAY LEARNING THE BEAUTIFUL ENGLISH.

Hi,

Is it wrong to write, "Despite her old age, my grandma leads an active life." Is 'her' redundant?

Hello Leen,

The sentence is fine. It's not old age in general which you are talking about, but your grandma's old age. The use of 'her' makes' this clear.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! Is there any rule regarding when to use “in spite of” or “despite”??

Hello Marianapr,

You can use these interchangeably as there is no difference in meaning or grammatical structure between them. Both are on the formal side, but I would say that 'despite' is a little more formal than 'in spite of'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

i have got 5 out of 5. i wanna learn and speak english language fluently..but i dont have money to purchase such expensive courses ..what should i do plz suggest

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