Although, even though and other words to introduce contrast

Revisado porSana Liashuk / más sobre Proceso editorial

In everyday conversations, we have to build complex sentences and describe situations when something happened against all odds. In the English language, there are several words to create such sentences. They are 'although,' 'though,' 'even though,' 'despite,' and 'in spite of.' Below, you will find example sentences with each of these words and rules to integrate them into sentences correctly.

Although Examples and Rules

'Although' is a conjunction that you may see or hear very often in the English language. Its main function is to introduce a contrast to the main idea (main clause) of the sentence. 'Although' plays a vital role in building complex sentences with unexpected results or contrasting ideas. Here are some examples:

  • Although it was rainy, we decided to go to the park.
  • Although Alex didn't sleep well, he was very productive today.
  • They finished the project before the deadline, although they had little time.

You can put although in a sentence both at the beginning and in the middle. The main rule is to always put it at the beginning of a subordinate clause. For example, the sentence "They had a little money although they bought a new house." is wrong since it delivers the message inaccurately. The correct one should be, "Although they had a little money, they bought a new house." 'Although' can be replaced with its synonym 'though.'

When the sentence starts with 'although,' introducing a subordinate clause, you should use a comma right before the main clause. If a subordinate clause with 'although' goes in the middle of the sentence, a comma isn't necessary.

The word 'although' is used only in affirmative sentences. It can't be used in negative and interrogative sentences. Additionally, avoid using 'although' with 'but' and 'yet' in the same sentence.

Even though in the English language

'Even though' is very similar to 'although' since it also introduces a contrasting idea or goes before and has an unexpected result. Comparing although vs even though you should remember that 'even though' is used when you want to demonstrate a strong difference. For example:

  • Even though the weather was terrible, the outdoor concert went ahead as planned.
  • She managed to crack a joke, even though she was nervous during her speech.
  • Even though he didn't have any experience, he decided to apply for the job.

When placing 'even though' in a sentence, you should follow the same rules as when using 'although.' 

  1. Always put 'even though' at the beginning of the subordinate clause.
  2. The comma is required when 'even though' comes at the beginning of the sentence.
  3. The comma is not necessary when 'even though' comes in the middle of the sentence.
  4. Don't use 'even though' with 'yet' and 'but' in the same sentence.
  5. Don't use it for direct questions and negative sentences.

It's not a mistake to use even though vs although interchangeably. In both cases, natives and non-natives will understand your message clearly. However, it's recommended to use 'even though' when you want to express a strong contrast and 'although' in other situations when the contrast is less significant.

Despite Examples and Rules

Despite is a preposition that plays a vital role in creating complex sentences in the English language. It indicates that something happened or is true, although there are some factors that should have prevented the situation or event. So, as well as 'although,' despite introduces a contradiction.

  • Despite his lack of experience, he performed exceptionally well in the competition.
  • She maintained her composure despite the intense pressure of the situation.
  • Despite the cold weather, they decided to go on a hiking trip.

'Despite' in a sentence may be followed by a noun, pronoun, or a gerund (verb ending in '-ing'). This word may be put at the beginning of the sentence and in the middle of it. At the beginning of the sentence, a subordinate clause with 'despite' is followed by a comma. 

As well as 'although,' it shouldn't be used with 'yet' and 'but' in the same sentence. Also, a very common mistake is using the phrase 'despite of.' This is incorrect and should be avoided in the English language. 

Very often, you might see the phrase 'despite the fact that.' It is correct, but only if you want to introduce a full clause (with a subject and a verb in a subordinate clause).

  • Incorrect: "Despite the fact of rain, the game continued."
  • Incorrect: "Despite the fact it was raining, the game continued."
  • Correct: "Despite the fact that it was raining, the game continued."

The correct variant is the last. Firstly, because it contains the full phrase 'despite the fact that.' You can't cut any word from this phrase. Secondly, because the third variant contains the subject 'it' and the verb phrase 'was raining,' it forms a correct structure for the clause.

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'In spite of' in English

In spite of this, there is one more preposition in the English language that is used to demonstrate contrasting ideas or situations. Comparing in spite of and despite, you can see that both of them indicate that something happens or is true even though there is a reason or factor that might normally prevent it from happening or being true. So, the rules for using 'in spite of' in a sentence are the same:

  • followed by a noun, pronoun, or gerund form of the verb;
  • can't be used with 'yet' and 'but' in one sentence;
  • can't be used in interrogative and negative sentences;
  • can be positioned in the middle of a sentence and at its beginning;
  • the comma is used when 'in spite of' is placed at the beginning of the sentence;
  • the comma is not necessary when 'in spite of' is placed in the middle of the sentence.

'In spite of' and 'despite' are very similar and might be used interchangeably in most cases. They have the same function and usage rules. However, there are some differences that you should remember for better clarity of your English:

  1. 'In spite of' is considered more formal than 'despite.'
  2. 'In spite of' is a three-word phrase. It might affect the rhythm and flow of the speech.
  3. Both can be used with 'the fact that' to introduce a full clause. However, it's more common to use 'despite' with 'the fact that.'

In summary, while "in spite of" and "despite" are largely interchangeable and have the same fundamental meaning, "in spite of" might be chosen for a slightly more formal tone or to give more emphasis to the contrasting element, whereas "despite" is more concise and commonly used in contemporary English.

Although/Even though vs. Despite/In spite of

'Although,' 'even though,' 'despite,' and 'in spite of' are used for the same purpose: to demonstrate the contrast or contradiction in a sentence. This confuses a lot of language learners and creates a feeling that all of these phrases are similar. However, there are some differences.

  1. Although and even though are conjunctions. They introduce a subordinate clause.
  2. Despite and in spite of are prepositions. They are followed by nouns, pronouns, or gerunds.
  3. The clauses with 'although' and 'even though' contain a subject and a verb.
  4. The clauses with 'despite' and 'in spite of' don't have a subject-verb structure.

The rules might seem challenging, but with practice, you will easily understand the difference and use all the phrases correctly, sending clear messages.

WordRoleSentence structureExamples
Although/thoughintroduce contrasting subordinate clause

[although/though] + [subject-verb clause], [main clause];

[main clause]+[although/though]+[subject-verb clause]

Although it was raining, the baseball game continued as scheduled.

She decided to take the job offer, though she had some reservations about moving to a new city.

Even thoughintroduce strong contrasting subordinate clause

[even though] + [subject-verb clause], [main clause];

[main clause]+[even though]+[subject-verb clause]

Even though he was the youngest in the class, he outperformed his older classmates.
Despiteintroduce contrasting idea

[despite]+[noun/pronoun/gerund], [main clause];

[main clause]+[despite]+[noun/pronoun/gerund]

In spite of the challenges, the team managed to finish the project on time.
In spite ofintroduce contrasting idea

[in spite of]+[noun/pronoun/gerund], [main clause];

[main clause]+[in spite of]+[noun/pronoun/gerund]

Despite having a headache, she completed her presentation flawlessly.

Conclusion

Although, even though, despite and in spite of are very similar words in terms of their role in the English language. However, they have slight differences that language learners should remember to build sentences correctly and deliver clear messages.

Conjunctive Adverbs in EnglishConjunctions in EnglishList of Conjunctions in EnglishCommand Sentences in EnglishCompound Sentences

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