Difference Between In Spite of And Despite – Connectors

September 17, 2018 - Priscila Pereira

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Hey friends! How are you doing?

Connectors!In this post, I will be sharing a quick grammar explanation that many English learners ask me about.


Yep! But first, what are connectors?

Connectors are words that combine two phrases. “But” is an example of a connector. There are many types of connectors and I intend to make more posts to talk about the most common ones.

In my email list, I have sent my exclusive subscribers an explanation of the connectors Although and Even Though.

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Connectors will help you express yourself more efficiently. Native speakers use them all the time. But let’s focus on two connectors many English learners confuse.

In Spite of  & Despite

These two connectors (or prepositional expressions) have the same meaning.  The difference is in HOW you build your sentence which will sometimes be different.

Both are used to express a contrast between two things. They are more commonly used in written language. However, you may hear native speakers using these words in spoken language too. “Despite” is a bit more formal than “in spite of”, ok?

Let’s take a look at some examples so that you can understand the idea of “contrast”

Mary got a huge promotion at work despite her poor results.

In this case, I am saying Mary got a promotion at work. The contrast is “poor results”. When a person is NOT doing well at work, a promotion hardly ever happens. So that is the “contrast” between the two phrases and you can use “despite” to express that.

Can you use “in spite of” for the same example? YES! here it is:

Mary got a huge promotion at work in spite of her poor results

  • You can use in spite of and despite WITH nouns – She got a new job despite/in spite of the recession (“recession” is a noun)
  • You can use in spite of and despite with ING – John go to work late despite/in spite of leaving home 30 minutes earlier
  • You can start the sentences with in spite of/despite: In spite of/despite being sick, Susie is the happiest person I know.


Students use Despite and In spite of incorrectly when they are making “that-clauses” (phrases with that)

What does that mean? I will give you an example!

John went to the party alone despite that his parents asked him not to! (this is wrong)

John went to the party alone despite the fact that his parents asked him not to.

You will need to include the words “the fact that”, then you can use “that”

In spite of the fact that/Despite the fact that Peter failed his final exams, his parents gave him a new car.


Teacher, this option is TOO long!!


I know, it is very long. So you can use ING instead!! here is how to do it!

In spite of /Despite Peter failING his final exams, his parents gave him a new car.

PS: With despite, don’t use OF, ONLY the word DESPITE, ok?


How about some exercises?

A. Complete the sentences

  1. He passed the exam despite ______________
  2. Susie was feeling very tired in spite of __________________
  3. In spite of _______________, we enjoyed our last weekend.
  4. James was able to fall asleep  despite ___________________
  5. Mary accepted the job offer despite _____________________


Excellent work!! Leave your answers in the comments!



Teacher Prix

Priscila Pereira

Starbucks and TV Series lover: juggling with teaching, blogging, and a YouTube life! I’m teacher Prix and I want to help you talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime in English! This blog is for English speakers who are looking for an effective blog. Get inspired by hundreds of different posts for all English levels, so that you can finally learn English easily and effectively on the internet.

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