Grammar Time: Subordinating Conjunctions

Let’s learn how to use despite and in spite of, although and even though.

Exam in Mind Level B1/B2

Despite   in spite of   although   even though

Although, even though, despite and in spite of can all be used to express the same thing. In other words, they have the same meaning.

Although and even though are conjunctions, but despite and in spite of are considered prepositions.

Despite and in spite of  have a similar meaning to although or even though. They express a contrast between two things. They are both more common in writing than in speaking. Despite is a little more formal than in spite of.

Despite and in spite of are prepositions, and can be found in the beginning or middle of a sentence.

Despite and in spite of have the same meaning and are used the same way. The only difference is that despite is one word, whereas in spite of  is three. Despite and in spite of both mean ‘”without being affected by the particular factor mentioned.” Synonyms for these terms are even though, notwithstanding (=in spite of), and regardless of.

  • Joshua lost the race, despite being the fastest runner on the track.
  • Joshua lost the race, in spite of being the fastest runner on the track.
  • Joshua lost the race, regardless of being the fastest runner on the track.

There are certain types of words that must come after despite and in spite of.

  1. Noun (a person, place, thing, or idea): He suddenly felt hot, in spite of the freezing weather. He got the job in spite of his prison record. John’s company is doing extremely well despite the recession.
  2. Gerund (a verb form that ends in –ing that is used as a noun): Despite all my meditating, I still felt anxious. He was very fast in spite of being terribly overweight. They arrived late despite leaving in plenty of time.
  3. Phrases that start with how, who, what, where, why, when: They forgave each other, despite what was said.


  • We don’t use a that-clause after despite or in spite of. We use in spite of the fact that or despite the fact that: It was hot, in spite of the fact that it was only the beginning of April.  Not: … in spite of that it was only the end of April
  • In spite of is written as three separate words. We never use of with despite: They enjoyed the rides in spite of the long queues. (or … despite the long queues.) Not: … in spite the long queues or … despite of the long queues.

In spite of oneself and despite oneself are idioms that mean “although one did not want or expect to do so.” Luna cried in spite of herself. (it means Luna cried even though she didn’t want to.)

Although, though and even though

After although we use subject + verb: Although it rained a lot, we enjoyed our holiday. I didn’t get the job although I had the necessary qualifications.

Sometimes we use though instead of although with the same meaning: I didn’t get the job though I had the necessary qualifications.

A stronger form of although is even though: Even though I was really tired, I couldn’t sleep.

We can put even though or although at the beginning of a sentence or in the middle of a sentence. It is more common to use although at the beginning of a sentence than in the middle.

  • Even though she isn’t big, she is strong.
  • Even though it rained, they went hiking.
  • Even though many unfortunate things happened, they enjoyed their trip.
  • She smiled even though she lost the game.
  • We bought it even though it was really expensive.
  • He quit his job even though he didn’t have another job lined up.
  • Although she is pretty, she doesn’t have a boyfriend.
  • Although we discussed it for 5 hours, we didn’t make a decision.
  • Although it looks good, it doesn’t work well.
  • We will go to the party although we do not know anybody else who is going.
  • It didn’t taste good although I followed the recipe.

Task 1. Complete the sentences with despite or although.

  1. __________ his sickness he attended the class yesterday.
  2. __________ he didn’t feel well, he went fishing.
  3. We arrived at the meeting on time __________ heavy traffic.
  4. I failed in my chemistry exam __________ I studied all night.
  5. __________ all my effort, I couldn’t convince my parents to let me go out.
  6. __________ his anger, he apologized to his friend for shouting.
  7. Claudia has many friends __________ she is very shy.
  8. __________ I was afraid of the dark, I had to walk home alone yesterday night.
  9. We finished the race first __________ many difficulties.
  10. __________ she can’t see well, she prefers to sit in the back.

Task 2. Complete the sentences with in spite of or though.

  1. __________ the heavy rain, he went out without his umbrella.
  2. __________ I felt sleepy, I had to stay up late to finish my assignment.
  3. We decided to buy it __________ it’s high price.
  4. I haven’t found a decent job yet __________ I have been searching for weeks.
  5. __________ my disapproval, Lisa insisted on studying abroad.
  6. __________ being short, I can still beat you in basketball.
  7. They visited me __________ they didn’t have much time.
  8. __________ new cars depreciate the most, we can’t help buying them.
  9. New York is a fantastic place the spend the holidays __________ being very cold in winter.
  10. __________ I don’t believe what you said, I will let you go this time.

Task 3. Complete the sentences with although, though, despite or in spite of.

  1.  ____________ you hurt me, I forgive you.
  2. ____________ the rain, they went swimming in the lake.
  3. ____________ Karen lived in Portugal for 3 years when she was a child, she can’t speak any Portuguese today.
  4. Tyler competed in the marathon __________ he has only one leg.
  5. Bianca did very well on the test _______ the fact that she didn’t study much.
  6. Deborah wants to get a tattoo __________ her parents’ opposition to it.
  7. ____________ the fact that she’s hungry, she won’t eat because she’s on a diet.
  8. ____________ Pablo’s joke was funny, the teacher didn’t laugh at it.
  9. David went outside in a T-shirt __________ the weather was very cold.

Task 4. Fill the gap in each sentence with despite, in spite of, although or even though.

  1. _____________________ we are a small company, we sell almost a hundred machines a month.
  2. _____________________ all the difficulties, the project started on time and was a success.
  3. _____________________ we were warned against doing so, we went ahead with the project.
  4. _____________________ his lack of experience, he became a successful businessman.
  5. _____________________ being by far the oldest player, he scored three goals.
  6. _____________________ he’s a millionaire, he drives a second-hand car.
  7. _____________________ it rained a lot, I enjoyed the holiday.
  8. _____________________ working for the company for six months now, he never seems to know what to do.

Task 5. Fill the gaps with although, despite or in spite.

  1. __________ my warnings, he kept on smokiing.
  2. __________ she didn’t want to see The Lord of the Rings, she enjoyed it in the end.
  3. __________ of being bad at pool, she beat him three times in a row.
  4. They visited Madrid __________ they didn’t have time to visit El Prado.
  5. __________ it was raining, we decided to go anyway.
  6. She decided to go abroad for a year .__________ loving her boyfriend very much.
  7. He went on holiday to Thailand __________ of the expensive airfare.
  8. __________ it was only the first time they met, they made friends immediately.
  9. The English actor Oliver Reed was often rude to people __________ he was always kind to animals.
  10. Socrates never had much money __________ being very famous in his own day.
  11. I phone my brother in Thailand using Skype nearly every day __________ the time difference.
  12. I spoke to Jim and Pete, __________ not to Tony because he was offline.
  13. The best things in life are free, __________ love is often very expensive.
  14. She’s a great person __________ of getting jealous over stupid things sometimes.
  15. Cars are a big waste of money __________ you do need one if you live in the country.
  16. Valencia is a fantastic place __________ of being too hot in July and August.
  17. __________ being necessary for democracy, politicians are still liars and thieves.