'in spite of', 'despite', 'although', 'even though' and 'though'

Do you know how to connect two contrasting ideas?

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

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Submitted by Donald Harrison on Fri, 08/03/2019 - 05:20

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Hello, I have constructed a sentence using 'although' . Could you please tell me if there this is correct? Although innovation is important for progression of humanity, removing traditions completely from our society would not greatly enhance the prospects of progress.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 08/03/2019 - 08:06

In reply to by Donald Harrison

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Hello Donald,

That sentence has only one error: it should be the progression of humanity.

The definite article is necessary here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Inas Elshinnawy on Sat, 23/02/2019 - 08:37

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Hi, I really can't grasp the difference between however and although ! Would you please clarify this? Would you refer to a grammar book that explains this difference ? Thanks in advance Inas
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Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 24/02/2019 - 08:09

In reply to by Inas Elshinnawy

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Hello Inas

There is a detailed explanation on this BBC page describing different linking words to express contrast and I would recommend taking a close look at. In general, 'however' means 'but' and 'although' means something like 'despite the fact that'.

One important difference my students sometimes struggle with is that with 'although', both of the things that are being contrasted must be in the same sentence as the word 'although'. For example, you can say 'Although I didn't enjoy the film, I think it deserves an award.' but NOT 'I think it deserves an award. Although I didn't enjoy the film.'

Unlike 'although', 'however' can be used in a separate sentence: 'I didn't enjoy the film. However, I think it deserves an award.' Or you can also put both ideas in the same sentence 'I didn't enjoy the film; however, I think it deserves an award.'

Note also that 'although' is not followed by a comma and 'however' is followed by a comma.

I hope this helps you!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by Hope-hope on Thu, 21/02/2019 - 10:32

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Hello! It is said here that after in spite of and despite we use a noun or a pronoun. What rules explain this usage: In spite of what I said yesterday I still love you. OR In spite of all that has been said, they have been doing what they think is right.
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Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 21/02/2019 - 15:17

In reply to by Hope-hope

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Hello Hope-hope

'despite' and 'in spite of', as prepositionals, can be followed by a word, phrase or clause acting as a noun or pronoun. In the two examples you mention, 'what I said yesterday' and 'all that has been said' are clauses acting as nominal objects (nouns) of 'in spite of'.

You could also use a gerund (e.g. 'despite knowing it was a bad idea, ...' and that is fine since gerunds are nominal (meaning they function as nouns).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Momocompanyman on Sun, 11/11/2018 - 16:20

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Hello Sir, I can't understand the mean of the noun: the food, in the sentence below: :She enjoyed the party despite'' the food''.
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Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 12/11/2018 - 08:11

In reply to by Momocompanyman

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Hi Momocompanyman,

It appears that 'food' means the things that people ate at the party. This sentence implies that the food was bad, but that she still enjoyed the party, even though the food was bad.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by qayum2s on Thu, 21/06/2018 - 05:44

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Dear Sir, I hope you are healthy. I have copied two sentences from the first paragraph and I got confused whether should not we put a comma after 'Despite the pain in his leg'? Whereas we have a comma in the second one. Despite the pain in his leg he completed the marathon. Despite having all the necessary qualifications, they didn’t offer me the job.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 21/06/2018 - 07:10

In reply to by qayum2s

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Hello qayum2s,

While there are some rules regarding comma usage in English, there is also a lot of flexibility. I would not say that either example is incorrect but I would say that a comma between the clauses is the standard way to punctuate such sentences.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Muhammad Erad on Thu, 10/05/2018 - 07:37

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Hello sir! What does "Orwellian and Orwellian non-sense" means? Guide me about its usage too.

Hi Muhammad,

The word 'Orwellian' refers to the thought of English writer George Orwell. If you follow the link, you can read a short explanation in the Wikipedia to learn a more specific meaning for it. If you are very interested in the topic, this short video goes into the topic in more depth.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Muhammad Erad on Tue, 08/05/2018 - 12:23

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Hello, I am Muslim so we eat meal before dawn in the month of Ramadan which is a part of keeping fast. We call it "Sahri Meal" but I want to know what Brits call this meal. A friend of mine said that Brits use word "Pre-dawn Meal". I am very confuse. Kindly guide me.

Hi again Muhammad,

I'm afraid I don't know, but I imagine it varies according to the origin of Muslims -- as you can see in the Wikipedia article, there are different words for it. By the way, our sister site LearnEnglish Teens has a video about a young woman who observed Ramadan -- perhaps this could be of interest to you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Muhammad Erad on Tue, 08/05/2018 - 07:10

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Hello, which one is correct: "He is observing seclusion" or "He is performing/sitting seclusion"?

Hi Muhammad,

I'm not sure what you mean here, but as far as I know, the word 'seclusion' isn't used with these verbs. People 'go into seclusion' or 'live in seclusion' -- do either of those make sense to you? Or perhaps the word 'retreat' (a time/place for quiet prayer) is what you mean?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Winda Asyuni on Fri, 04/05/2018 - 08:38

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hello, do you know what's the different between "Although" or "Even though" .Based on the material "even though" is more stronger than "although . what's that means ??
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 05/05/2018 - 07:28

In reply to by Winda Asyuni

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Hello Winda Asyuni,

The meanings of although and even though are the same: both introduce a contrasting fact which makes an action or event less likely or surprising. For example:

Although it was raining, I went for a walk.

Even though it was raining, I went for a walk.

People usally choose to stay inside when the weather is bad, so the fact that it was raining makes my choice more surprising.

The difference between them is strength, that is how surprising the action was in this situation. Of course, this is a very subjective question. The speaker may consider a particular context to be a particularly powerful difficulty:

I went for a walk even though there was a thunderstorm!

On the other hand the speaker might choose even though simply for rhetorical effect because they want to emphasise just how difficult the situation was, or just how determined they were in their action. In the end it is a choice for the speaker, just as many choices in language are.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Muhammad Erad on Thu, 03/05/2018 - 10:51

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Kindly tell me differences of the following: 1) Passion and Comittment 2) Involved and Indulged 3) Me and You/You and I Basically I am translating an Islamic lecture and I need to use modest words that is why I am asking difference because as of my opinion "Involved" is modest word if we use it instead of "Indulged".

Hello Muhammad Erad,

The best source for you is a good dictionary, or rather several dictionaries so that you can compare their definitions. I would recommend the following:

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/

https://www.merriam-webster.com/

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/

 

However, please remember that the context is crucial. Without knowing the full context in which a word is to be used it is impossible to be sure which word is appropriate. For example, passion can be used to mean great enthusiasm or commitment:

I have always had a great passion for Shakespeare's tragedies.

The lawyer's arguments were expressed with great passion.

Passion can also refer to desire for another person:

He looked at her with great passion.

After twenty years of marriage their passion for one another was still strong.

 

These are choices which can only be made with knowledge of the context and the intended meaning - problems which afflict any translator!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by jojo1708 on Tue, 01/09/2015 - 17:44

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Hi! I need your help. I read a sentence: Despite enjoying working with her peers Which v-ing functions as the noun?
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Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 02/09/2015 - 09:28

In reply to by jojo1708

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Hello jojo1708,

I'm not an expert at syntax or parsing sentences – that's not really our purpose here at LearnEnglish – but I'd say that both 'enjoying' and 'working' are verbal nouns. But if I had to choose one, I'd say 'working', as the object of 'enjoying'.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team