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

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 cchenjl on Thu, 25/04/2024 - 13:12

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Hello team,

How do I understand 'having' in the sentence"Despite having a headache, I had a great birthday.", a gerund or a present participle

Hello cchenji,

The word 'despite' is a preposition and prepositions are followed by objects (nouns or noun phrases). The -ing form here is therefore a gerund, not a participle.

 

The distinction between gerund and participle is one which comes originally from the study of Latin and it is one which modern grammars tend to avoid as being not really relevant to modern English. These grammars use the term -ing form for all uses. The relevant wikipedia page references this:

Traditional grammar makes a distinction within -ing forms between present participles and gerunds, a distinction that is not observed in such modern grammars as A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language and The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerund

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

In the sentence "Despite having a headache, I had a great birthday," the word "having" is functioning as a gerund.

Here’s why:

  • Gerund: A gerund is a verb form ending in -ing that functions as a noun. In this sentence, "having a headache" acts as the object of the preposition "despite." The phrase "having a headache" as a whole serves as the noun (or noun phrase) that is the object of "despite."
  • Present participle: A present participle also ends in -ing, but it typically functions as an adjective, modifying a noun, or is used in forming continuous verb tenses.

To further clarify, let’s break down the sentence:

  • "Despite" is a preposition.
  • The phrase "having a headache" is the object of the preposition "despite."
  • Within that phrase, "having" is derived from the verb "to have" and, in this context, takes the form of a gerund.

So, in this case, "having" is a gerund because it is part of the noun phrase "having a headache" that follows the preposition "despite."

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Submitted by Stellayennipham on Tue, 12/03/2024 - 04:58

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Hi, I don't realy get this one: My partner snores really loudly but ___in spite of __ that I sleep well.

I can't understand why we put "in spite of" right after "but"?

Hi Stellayennipham,

In spite of can be used to begin a sentence:

My partner snores really loudly. In spite of that I sleep well.

If we want to use it in the middle of a sentence we need to add but:

My partner snores really loudly but in spite of that I sleep well.

There are quite a lot of words and phrases that function like this. Some use 'and' (e.g. in addition, as well as that), some use 'but' (e.g. nevertheless, in contrast) and some use 'or' (e.g. alternatively, otherwise).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by 65 122 97 109 97 116 on Wed, 28/02/2024 - 11:14

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Thank you a lot for the help and time. Bless you.

Submitted by 0789043331 on Mon, 16/10/2023 - 12:06

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Hello can you help me with the correctness of a sentence "Although we had good players but we lost three matches"

Hi 0789043331,

You can use "Although" or "but", but not both of them together. To correct it, just delete one of them!

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by thebaongoc on Tue, 10/10/2023 - 06:05

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Hello! How to rewrite this sentence with ''despite'':
"Although I had met her twice before, I did not recognize her"
And can you explain and give me another situations?
Thanks

Hello thebaongoc,

'Despite' is followed by a noun or an -ing form, so you need to change 'meet' into 'meeting':

Despite meeting her twice before, I did not recognise her.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team