'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

Language level

Intermediate: B1
Although I was sick I went at work. I decided to make peace with my friend, even though I didn’t like him. Although some people like living in the city I like to live in the Countryside.
Dear sir, Can you please tell the error in the following sentences and is it correct to use 'although' this way? 1) Hot and humid although (a)/ the weather was,(b)/we kept fighting to win the (c)/ match till the end of the match. (d)/ no error (e) 2) immensely talented although (a)/ he is, he never (b)/helped India to win a (c)/ final match on his own.(d)/ no error (e)

Hello Pratapsingh

In an older style or perhaps in verse, it's correct to use 'although' in this way, but in most speaking or writing these days both of these sentence would sound quite strange (though intelligible). A more standard phrasing would be 'Although the weather was hot and humid, ...'

Other than that, I don't see any other grammatical errors.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr Kirk , I can't understand the difference between in spite of and despite ?

Hello Momocompanyman,

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

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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"?

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

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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 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

Hello zulquadah,

The material on LearnEnglish is available free of charge, so you can continue using this as long as you wish. You can find material on different areas and at different levels using the search function at the top of each page.

In my experience the best way to develop language skills is to use the language, so try to find opportunities where you like to practise. Interaction with tourists or visitors to your country, for example, or even just practising with your friends can be very helpful. Reading is also very important. You'll pick up new vocabulary but also develop a feel for things like word order, natural phrasing and so on. There are plenty of sites online with free ebooks, such as Project Gutenberg:

http://www.gutenberg.org/

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir, can we use though or although and yet together in a sentence?? If yes, then what are the conditions?? Is the following sentence correct ?? Though he is rich, yet he doesn't help anyone.

Hello Pratapsingh.

When we speak, we often change what our sentences before finishing them, and so in a case like that it would be possible, but otherwise, off the top of my head, I can't think of a sentence when you could use 'though' and 'yet' at the same time. You could say 'Though he is rich, he doesn't help anyone' or 'He is rich and yet he doesn't help anyone'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, May I know if it is necessary to use past perfect tense in sentences with 'in spite of the fact that'? E.g. In spite of the fact that she worked hard, she failed the test. In spite of the fact that she had worked hard, she failed the test. Are both acceptable?

Hello Leen

Yes, both of these sentences are correct and even other tenses are possible, e.g. 'In spite of the fact that I live in Spain, I am not Spanish.'

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I need a similar meaning. Would be very nice if someone would help. In spite of the doctor's orders, she went to the game. And: She went to the game anyway, doctor's orders __________. (1 word)
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.

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

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

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

 

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.

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

Hello Sir, I can't understand the mean of the noun: the food, in the sentence below: :She enjoyed the party despite'' the food''.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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 ??

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

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