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These expressions used to show a contrast are commonly confused. All can be used in the beginning or middle of a sentence. Their usage differs according to the types of words used with them.

Usage of in spite of and despite

a noun, gerund (ing form of a verb) or a pronoun is used after these expressions

Examples

  • In spite of the results of the studies to date, many experts believe that this phenomenon is widespread.
  • Despite being illegal, costly, and an affront to dignity, sexual harassment is pervasive and challenging to eliminate.
  • A very high percentage of students (90%) expressed an interest inparticipating in the study but, in spite of that, only 15% did so. 

That cannot be used after despite and in spite of. Instead the expressions despite the fact that and in spite of the fact that are used.

Example

  • The paper serves to illustrate some of the fundamental problems that may be encountered by organisations which aim to introduce new technology to developing countries, in spite of the fact that the technology in question is aimed at improving the quality of life of the inhabitants.   

Usage of although, even though and though

A subject and a verb are used after although and even though. Even though is slightly stronger. Though is a synonym for although and is used in the same way.

Examples

  • Although the rate of increase is lower than at earlier times in history, The population of Great Britain is increasing.
  • It is not easy to find parallels in other areas of public policy, even though the underlying question of the relationship between the family and the state is similar in several spheres. 
  • Table 2.6 shows the long-term trends, with upward mobility rising and downward moves declining, though the overall proportion of sons moving occupational level compared with their fathers remains fairly constant. 

Two online grammar tests to practice these can be found on the British Council Learn English website. Additional explanations and examples can be found in the links below.

British Council Learn English

Cambridge Online Dictionary

Some of the example sentences come from the Corpus Concordance English.

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Pamela Cotte

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