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

Language level

Average: 4.1 (96 votes)
Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

Hello VCamellia,

Whether you need to add 'but' depends on what follows in spite of or despite. Take a look at these examples.

In spite of the rain, I went for a walk.

I went for a walk in spite of the rain.

No additional word is needed here.

 

It was raining. In spite of that, I went for a walk.

It was raining, but in spite of that I went for a walk.

Here, we need to add 'but' or begin a new sentence.

 

The key is the word 'that'. Here, 'that' is a reference device which refers anaphorically (back) to something earlier. When we use this construction, 'but' is needed. When in spite of is followed by a noun, a noun phrase or a gerund, no 'but' is needed. The same is true for despite.

 

I hope that clarifies it.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emma30 on Fri, 22/07/2022 - 10:28

Permalink

" I handed my report in on time despite the fact that I had been ill all day"
Can you please explain "in on time" in this case? I've learned "in/on time" and have never seen "in on time".
Thanks.

Hi emma30,

There are two separate phrases here: "handed in" and "on time". "Hand in" is a phrasal verb and it means to give something to a teacher, manager or other authority. For example, students hand essays in to their teacher, and employees hand in reports to their manager. It's possible to say "handed in my report" and "handed my report in" - both forms are correct and they have the same meaning.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

I handed my report in (submitted) on time (not late), despite the fact that I had been ill all day.

handed in + on time

Submitted by redragons0 on Mon, 06/06/2022 - 20:12

Permalink

Hello everyone, although I am a lazy child, I learned this lesson.

Submitted by Solosolix on Sun, 15/05/2022 - 04:03

Permalink

Hello team,
I'm stack here! Which one is correct?
1. Even though the room was large, it could not accommodate the audience.
2. Even though the room could not accommodate the audience, it was large.

Hello Solosolix,

The first sentence is correct.

Even though is a linking device which joins two clauses and shows a contrast between them. For example:

Even though it was raining, I went for a walk.

The contrast here is that going for a walk is somewhat surprising given the information in the other clause (it is raining). Thus, even though is used before the problem or difficulty. It is similar in that sense to despite:

I went for a walk despite the fact that it was raining.

In your example the problem or difficulty is the size of the room; the other information happens despite this. Thus, the first sentence is correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team