'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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Language level

Hello aamirmit,

Yes, they mean the same thing and in most cases they can be used interchangeably.

I can't think of one off the top of my head, but there are probably a few expressions where one is used and the other isn't -- otherwise both work equally well.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Although my English is at a pre-intermediate level, I always try to speak English fluently.

Thanks to the LearnEnglish team, people over the world could learn English more easily.

Despite being less thrilling, I like the bus journey. Despite being a great virtue in private life, love doesn't work in public life. Could you tell me about the tense that has been used in the aforementioned sentences?

Hello Md.Habibullah,

There is only one tense used in each sentence:

Despite being less thrilling, I like the bus journey.

Despite being a great virtue in private life, love doesn't work in public life.

The underlined verbs are present simple forms.

In the first sentence the present simple is used to express a preference or emotion; we use present simple for this rather than continous.

In the second sentence the present simple is used to describe something which is generally true.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

And also In test 2 3rd one.There is using “in spite of” but because of present simple(sleep well) we can’t

Hi RIma0987u,

The phrase is: ... but in spite of that I sleep well. The phrase in spite of must be followed by a noun phrase, pronoun or gerund (here, it's followed by that, a pronoun, which refers to the partner snoring loudly).

I sleep well is a different clause. It's not part of the in spite of clause.

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello I can’t understand, why in test 2 last ones answer is although.There is using gerund(she is arriving) and after gerund we use Despite or in spite of

Hi RIma0987u,

The structures are:

  • Although + subject + verb
  • Despite / In spite of + subject (without a verb phrase)

The question says she's arriving late. Here, she is a subject, and 's arriving late is a verb phrase. That's why although is the right option. We can't use despite or in spite of, because they must be followed by a subject only (i.e., a noun phrase, gerund or pronoun, without a verb phrase).

 

A gerund can function as a subject (or an object). It can be in any structure that needs a subject. But actually, in the phrase She is arriving, arriving isn't a gerund. It's a verb in the -ing verb. An -ing form is called a gerund when it functions as a noun. Here, it's not a gerund because it functions as a verb.

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Please, I would like to ask something. I noticed that I use THOUGH, ALTHOUGH and EVEN THOUGH before subjects. But what is the rule to use IN SPIT OF?
The train was cancelled. In spite of that, we arrived on time. we said that after "although" we put a subject and in this phrase we put the subject after " in spit of " so how we can make the difference.

Hi diamanta7,

Although needs to have a subject and a verb after it (i.e. a full clause). But in spite of just needs a noun or pronoun, without a verb.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, could please let me know if these sentences are grammatically right Even though connecting ideas is a bit confusing, I'll try hard to master it. Despite the hard work he did, he failed to pass the exam. Despite of having the necessary qualifications and skills, I wasn't hired for that position. The problem still persists although they told that it was fixed. thanks in advance.

Hi Maahir,

The first two sentences are correct :)

Sentence 3 should be Despite having ... or In spite of having ... (not Despite of, which is not a correct form).

Sentence 4 needs to add the object of told: ... although they told me/us that ...

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, but the first sentence says: connecting... is a gerund so why she didn't use Despite or in spite of....gerund followed by a subject (or noun)

Hi pablito,

Good question :) It's because there's not only a gerund in the clause. There's a verb phrase too (underlined): Even though connecting ideas is a bit confusing, ... . After Even though, we need to put a subject and a verb phrase. A gerund can function as a subject.

 

After Despite or In spite of, we put a gerund, noun or pronoun, without a verb phrase. So, we could say something like this, with a similar meaning:

  • Despite my confusion about connecting ideas, I'll try hard to master it. (The underlined part is a noun phrase).

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I see that "even if" is not listed, is it wrong? If it's accepted, could you tell me if it's standard English or colloquial?

Hello Aglaia,

'even if' is a bit different from 'even though' or 'although'. 'even though' refers to a real situation. For example, in the last example sentence above, the woman didn't get the job despite having the required qualifications -- we understand from this that the woman applied for the job and perhaps even had an interview.

In contrast, 'even if' typically refers to imaginary situations. So if we said 'She won't get the job even if she has the qualifications', we're imagining a situation that doesn't exist yet.

I'd suggest having a look at this one-minute video on this topic from BBC Learning English.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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Hello admin can you tell me how can I find topics about "as if"... Or it would be kind enough if you could help me understand the correct grammatical structure of "as if" as I'm slightly confused about it's structure...thank you in advance
This is really a good explenation and I understood it well but i still have doubts on this question. ...my careful planning,we ended up staying in a really bad hotel Despite Although Even though Is it grammatically correct to use both despite and despite of in this sentence?Or we cant use despite with of?

Hi Memmedeva Nezrin,

That's right, we can't use despite with of. But, there is a similar phrase: In spite of. It means the same thing as despite, so it fits in your example sentence too.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Jonathan, I am a bit confused why we can't use despite of with the above sentence, because in the Grammar explanation it says that we can use both despite and despite of with noun, gerund(ing- verb) or pronouns. could you kindly explain it more. Thanks

Hi Maahir,

Actually, it says we can use both despite and in spite of (not despite of). Despite of is not a correct form.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Even though I could not understand how to use the conjunctions contrasting words last year, now I find them easy to use.
Even though it's quite complex, i understood the difference between although/even though and in spite of/despite.. However, I think that i need to practice more.
Hey! Actually I cant understand that the meaning of "though" is "however". Like that: A:You have six hours in the airport between flights! B:I don’t mind, though. I have lots of work to do. I’ll just bring my laptop with me. A:It’s expensive. B:It’s nice, though. A:Yeah, I think I’ll buy it. Can you explain me the meaning of "tho" in this sentences?

Hi ceylinesp,

Yes, in these sentences though has a meaning similar to but or however. (But notice that it has a different position in the sentence.)

  • I don't mind, though. = But I don't mind.
  • It's nice, though. = But it's nice.

Though shows a contrast with something. For example, in the first sentence, six hours to wait is a long time and may be boring. But we can see that person B doesn't mind, which contrasts with what person A thinks.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Even though grammar english is quite complex, I start to understand those sentences structures. Despite taking lot of time and lot of work, I’m glad, I understand.
Even though I practise English an hour per day i haven't seem a greater progress on my language knowledge. I guess i would need to double the time. I'm making an effort on giving an aproppiate comment despite my incomplete studies of the english grammar. Despite of the fact i've studied English at high school and in an Institute i've acknowlegded still need to practise some areas of grammar.
Dispite the fact you didn't ask me to comment this time, i am doing it. And in spite of that i am planning to do it again! Although i've already made my useful comment below i am doing a second one, i told you... Now, Even though i've already made 2 comments as i am super bored i am doing a third one, i hope you understand. It seems that this guy has nothing to do with his life, was pretty creative, though.
Although i didn't have enough time, I read your comment. I read each sentences even though they weren't super exciting. Despite the fact you are not trying to be funny, comments are really funny. And in spite of that i am trying to reply.
Although I have no time too, I would like to comment in order to do some practice. Despite being my first time using this words, I actually feel comfortable with them. We may be doing another thing, though. Even though I am finishing this letter, I hope I had understood it all. In spite of the fact that I can be writing untill eternity, I have to finish for obvious reasons...
Is there a rule when to use inspite of / despite? Or we could just choose whatever we want when constructing sentences? Same question with although and even though.

Hello flower_dem,

I think despite and in spite of (three words, not one as in your question) are interchangeable; you can use either without it making any difference.

I would say that even though is stronger than although. It signals a more extreme contrast.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Although i studied high school in English language,i still have some difficulties in some areas.

Hello AdrianH,

'Despite' needs to be followed by a direct object. This can be a noun or a gerund (verb-ing).

You could say this:

Despite having a job, she is unhappy.

Despite the fact that she has a job, she is unhappy.

 

Alternatively, you could use a different linking device:

Although she has a job, she is unhappy.

Even though she has a job, she is unhappy.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm very satisfied with my score in both Grammar Tests. I scored a hundred percent. However, I think it's a little too cheap.
Even though I was not on line these two last days, I've done my best to be connected today.