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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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

Profile picture for user jojo1708

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?
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore 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