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In spite of, despite and although

by Brian November 19, 2020

In this blog post we will practice using in spite of , despite and although in English

Despite studying every day, my English isn’t getting better!

Do you ever get that feeling? You study English as often as you can – maybe even every day – but it feels like you keep making the same mistakes?

Well, give yourself a break! Stop giving yourself a hard time!

Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you’re a language genius who picks up new words and grammar structures and never forgets them, amazing! Unfortunately, most of us have to go through a learning process before we can use new words or grammar with confidence.  Repetition is key!

Learning becomes easier when we break our study goals down into small chunks.

Set realistic goals – for example, try to learn twenty new vocabulary items per week and study one or two grammar topics until you know them very well. Write new words on post-its and stick them on your wall. Use flash cards and look at them on the train, at the bus stop or on the loo! And most importantly..never give up! You can do this!

Follow this link for more advice on learning vocabulary:

9 Imaginative Tips for Absorbing Vocabulary Like a Sponge

In spite of, despite and although

We use In spite of, despite and although to express contrast.

In spite of and despite are always followed by a noun, pronoun or gerund.

Although is always followed by a subject + verb.

In spite of and despite

In spite of and despite are exactly the same and are always followed by

the + noun, pronoun + noun or gerund.

Look at these examples:

Followed by the + noun:

Jim went for a walk in spite of the rain.

Sophie continues to study despite the cost.

 

Followed by a pronoun + noun:

They played for hours in spite of their tiredness.

Gwen didn’t go home despite her illness.

 

Followed by a gerund:

Despite having little money, he bought a ticket to the gig. (Not: Despite he had little money, he bought a ticket to the gig.)

In spite of being sick, the teacher went to work. (Not: In spite of she was sick, the teacher went to work.)

 

Note

All of these examples state two facts or ideas. We can change the position of each idea without changing the meaning of the sentence.

So we can say:

Despite (In spite of) having a law degree, she works in a bar.

Or we can say:

She works in a bar despite (in spite of having) a law degree.

Notice that we use a comma to separate the ideas when the first clause begins with despite/in spite of. 

Test Yourself

3

In spite of and despite

1 / 5

When do we use in spite of, despite and although?

2 / 5

What type of phrase follows in spite of and despite?

3 / 5

Which sentence is correct?

4 / 5

Which sentence is correct?

5 / 5

Which sentence is correct?

Your score is

In spite of / despite the fact that

 

Sometimes we use the phrase “the fact that” after in spite of and despite.  

This does not change the meaning but does change the grammar.

After “despite/in spite of the fact that” we must use a subject + verb

Look at these examples:

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

Despite the fact that he had little money, he bought a ticket to the gig.

He keeps parking his car in my space in spite of the fact that I’ve asked him a million times not to.

Saying “In spite of (despite) the fact that….” may sound a bit long winded, but it’s quite a common phrase in both spoken and written English. It’s good to learn as a chunk of vocabulary!

In spite of / despite the fact that

After in spite of and despite, we sometimes use the phrase the fact that.
In spite of / despite the fact that is always followed by a subject+verb

Although

Although is also used to express contrast or a surprising relationship between two facts.

After although we use a subject + verb.

Look at these examples:

Although John is tired, he’s going to work until midnight.

Although governments pass laws, these are often broken.

The holiday was fantastic although the weather wasn’t great.

Susan is going to work today although she feels very ill.

Notice that when we place the “although” clause in the first position we use a comma to separate the two ideas. 

Test Yourself

4

In spite of, despite, although

1 / 5

In spite of the fact that ________, she watched a movie.

2 / 5

________ Janet lives in Dublin, she has never drunk a pint of Guinness!

3 / 5

________ the fact that it was cold, she wore a t-shirt to the park.

4 / 5

Joe passed the exam, ________ being late.

5 / 5

________ he is rich, he is very unhappy.

Your score is

Vocabulary

Chunk: A big piece of something
Vocabulary chunk: Two or more words with one meaning (eg. In spite of)
Loo: Toilet, WC, Washroom
Gig: Music concert

Idioms

Give someone a break = Be kind to someone, don’t be critical
Give someone a hard time = Be critical of someone
Rome wasn’t build in a day = It takes a long time to achieve something great so don’t try to rush it

Thank you for reading our post. You’ll find more English grammar tips elsewhere on our site and if you’d like information on our English courses in Dublin, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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