Contrasting ideas: 'although', 'despite' and others

Contrasting ideas: 'although', 'despite' and others

Do you know how to connect two contrasting ideas with words like although and despite? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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.
It's illegal to use mobile phones while driving. People still do it, though.

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 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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Hello Momocompanyman,

There is no difference between despite and in spite of in meaning or grammatical function, and you can use the two interchangeably.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lubnaaliraqia on Tue, 24/12/2019 - 17:59

Thank you so much for benefit.

Submitted by Arash Yekta on Mon, 23/12/2019 - 17:51

Hello, Sorry to leave a question here about "unless". I didn't find a section in grammar part of the site under which "unless" is explained. On what condition, should subjunctive be used after "unless"?
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 24/12/2019 - 07:38

In reply to by Arash Yekta


Hello Arash Yekta

As far as I know, it's unusual to use a subjunctive form after 'unless' in spoken or written English. It was perhaps more common in the past, but off the top of my head, the only time I can think of to use it would be in a kind of second conditional. For example, 'If we had time, we'd go skiing, unless there was no snow', though really I would say 'but only if there was snow' instead of 'unless there was no snow' because it sounds a little odd to me.

You can see some examples of 'unless' with a subjunctive verb on the Wikipedia English subjunctive page, but please note these sound very odd to modern ears. In general, I'd recommend this Cambridge dictionary page for general reference.

Hope this helps.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Loc Dang on Sun, 22/12/2019 - 14:03

Hello, I have a question in the grammar test 1 as follows: I completely forgot to post the letter, _____ him reminding me in the morning. The correct answer is "in spite of". I don't understand the grammatical role of "him" in this sentence. Thank you in advance
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 23/12/2019 - 07:28

In reply to by Loc Dang


Hello Loc Dang

'him reminding me in the morning' is the object of 'in spite of'. Since it is an object, this is why the form 'him' is used here. At the same time, 'him' is the subject of the verb phrase 'him reminding me in the morning'. I imagine that might seem a little strange, but it is correct.

Does that help you make sense of it?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emma charles on Fri, 01/11/2019 - 10:21

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


The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Quynh Nhu

Submitted by Quynh Nhu on Fri, 04/10/2019 - 17:06

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^^
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 05/10/2019 - 08:40

In reply to by Quynh Nhu


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.



The LearnEnglish Team