'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

B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by michael_silver on Thu, 04/08/2022 - 03:08

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Hi all,
Please correct my usage that is correct or not.

Although my friend went to America without permission from his parents, his parents were going to kill the fatted calf when he will come back after two years.

Hello michael_silver,

No, I'm afraid that's not correct. If we're talking about the future in time clauses that begin with words such as 'when', we don't use 'will' but rather present tense forms. So in this sentence, 'will come back' should be 'comes back'. Also, the verb 'were going' should be 'are going' since it refers to a future time from the perspective of the present.

Let us know if you have any further questions about this.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by juliel7 on Mon, 25/07/2022 - 08:26

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Hi, I've confused with the 3rd question in the Grammar test 2: My partner snores really loudly but in spite of that I sleep well.
I think the correct sentence is My partner snores really loudly, in spite of that I sleep well.
Could you explain the reason why we put "but" in this sentence?
Thank you

Hello juliel7,

When we use in spite of in the middle of a sentence we need to add 'but'. At the beginning of a sentence this is not necessary:

In spite of the fact that my partner snores really loudly, I sleep well.

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

There are a number of linking devices which work in a similar way, with an extra word required when they are used in the middle of a sentence:

  • contrastive linking devices with 'but': in spite of (that/the fact that), despite (that/the fact that), still
  • additive linking devices with 'and': in addition, also, furthermore
  • linking devices for showing alternatives with 'or': alternatively, otherwise
  • linking devices for describing cause and effect with 'and': therefore, thus, hence, consequently

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I have two questions. The first is that the following sentence in your grammar test 1 doesn't include 'but' although the word 'in spite of' is in the middle of the sentence. The second is why we use the objective pronoun 'him' after 'in spite of' and why we can't use the pronoun 'he'.
I completely forgot to post the letter, in spite of him reminding me in the morning.

Hello VCamellia,

In answer to your second question, it's because the phrase 'him reminding me in the morning' is the object of 'in spite of'. It might also help to think that 'of' is a preposition, and prepositions always take the object form of pronouns ('him') instead of the subject form ('he') after prepositions.

I'm afraid I don't understand what your first question is. Could you please rephrase it? If it's whether 'in spite of' can come at the beginning or in the middle of sentences, that is possible and correct.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

Thanks a lot for your reply.
My first question was based on the reply of Peter from your team. I'd like to know whether an extra word 'but' is compulsory to add or not if we put 'in spite of' in the middle of a sentence. In some example sentence, I don't see an extra word 'but' is added.
Sorry if I made you confused.
Best Regards,
V

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

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" 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

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

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

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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

Hello sir,
Why the second sentence can't be correct? All these linking words show contrast and it is showing contrast too. I can say: " although the room can accommodate many, it's not large enough." What's wrong with this sentence? 🙏

Hello higirl,

It's not that the second sentence cannot be correct - it is perfectly well formed, grammatically speaking. The problem is, as I said, that we use 'even though' before something that we might expect to create a particular result but which does not. To return to the example I gave earlier:

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

The rain is the context; the walk is the result which the context did not stop. Now take a look at what happens if we change the clauses around:

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

Now the sentence does not make sense. Going for a walk does not affect the weather in any way, so it cannot be a context with any influence.

 

If we apply this to the original example we can see the problem:

Even though the room was large, it could not accommodate the audience.

This makes sense: the room was large but it was not large enough. Whether or not the room can accommodate the audience is determined by its size.

Even though the room could not accommodate the audience, it was large.

Now the sentence lacks logic. The size of the room does not change according to whether or not it can accommodate the audience.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by diolongom on Thu, 12/05/2022 - 02:46

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Hi,
Even though they'd only known each other for two months, they got engaged.
- question uses they'd? I thought it should've been they've? can someone help me. Thanks!

great website!

Hi diolongom,

Both are grammatically correct. It depends on what the situation is. With present perfect (they've), we are talking about events that are quite recent. It means they met two months ago (i.e., two months before now). With past perfect (they'd), it is longer ago in the past. We know that they got engaged after only knowing each other for two months, but that may have been 5 or 10 years ago, for example - the sentence doesn't tell us how long ago it was. 

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by KsaOld on Fri, 08/04/2022 - 19:54

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Hello! Thanks so much for this lesson. It really helps

Hi Nadezdaenglish2006,

Actually, it's not a mistake. The article is talking about a that-clause, i.e. that + a subject and verb, as in the bold part here: "He went out without an umbrella, despite the fact that it was raining." The article wants to show that it's incorrect to say "... despite that it was raining."

However, after "In spite of" and "Despite", we can use that as a pronoun, instead of as part of a that-clause. Your sentence is a good example of that.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by hadisrashidi74 on Sat, 22/01/2022 - 12:39

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Even though I see you every day, I still miss you when you're not around.

Submitted by aamirmit on Mon, 15/11/2021 - 07:49

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In most of the cases, can we use in spite of and despite interchangeably?

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

Submitted by nazmulhaqsmsa on Mon, 15/11/2021 - 07:37

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in spite of being a good teacher, I will help the student.

This sentence is incorrect. Because the two phrases have no overlap.
You can say something like "in spite of not having much free time, I still help my students.

Submitted by NamPHAN on Sun, 07/11/2021 - 05:07

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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.

Submitted by Md.Habibullah on Tue, 24/08/2021 - 05:58

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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

Submitted by RIma0987u on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 13:19

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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

Submitted by RIma0987u on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 13:03

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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

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Submitted by JohnnyMG on Fri, 26/03/2021 - 18:02

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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?

Hi JohnnyMG,

In spite of is followed by a noun, pronoun or gerund, without a main verb (i.e. not a clause). :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by diamanta7 on Mon, 15/03/2021 - 17:32

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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

Submitted by Maahir on Mon, 15/03/2021 - 07:59

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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.
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 18/03/2021 - 03:33

In reply to by Maahir

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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

Submitted by pablito on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 05:41

In reply to by Jonathan R

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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

Submitted by Aglaia on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 06:48

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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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Submitted by MARUFA MARJAN … (not verified) on Fri, 19/02/2021 - 10:54

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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