The English language has a wealth of different words that express the same thing. However, using them in the wrong context can have dire consequences. It is a lot of fun learning the language in spite of the difficult rules. The best way to learn the correct use of certain words is practice and by reading a lot of books.
Understanding the meaning of despite and although.
Both these words are used to indicate a contrast between two objects or situations. The use in the sentence will indicate which word must be used.
The meaning of despite
Despite shows the contrast between two things or objects. The synonyms for despite include notwithstanding, in spite of, regardless of and even with, among others. Despite is a preposition, and must be placed in conjunction with a noun or pronoun. A noun is an object, place name, people; mostly things that you can see, feel, hear. There are abstract nouns like childhood, health. These are a collective name for something which can be seen as a concrete element. A pronoun is a word that can replace the noun. Referring to someone by name the entire paragraph is difficult to read. It is also incorrect grammar. Instead of using the name, it is replaced with a pronoun such as him or her.
Example sentences with the correct use of despite
Despite the pain in his arm, he completed the race.
Despite having the correct documentation, they were unable to help me at the bank.
Jerry didn’t take a bath despite being covered in mud.
The family enjoyed their time on holiday despite the weather.
He talked louder despite the noise.
The child is wearing a sweater despite the hot weather.
Example sentences with the INcorrect use of despite.
Despite of the weather, there was a large crowd at the march.
Despite of having the flu, he insisted on going out.
The fishermen went to sea despite of the rain.
The reason for the above sentences being wrong is that despite is followed by “of”. There are no “of” after despite. Do not confuse despite with in spite of. In spite of can be used instead of despite. It is important to leave out the “in” and the “of” then. It might sound correct, but it is not.
Both can be used with a subject-verb-object clause. When the sentence starts with despite it is important to note that a comma must be used after the adverb clause. If the sentence start with the main clause or noun then there is no need to use a comma. Despite is more commonly used than in spite of, which makes it more important to get correct every time[i].
Write practice sentences, and check if despite can be replaced with in spite of. The easiest way to master how to use despite is practice. Remember to leave out the “of” when despite is used in the place of in spite of.
The meaning of although
As mentioned earlier, although is used to show the difference between two things. Although is a subordinating conjunction, meaning it link two clauses together. A subordinating conjunction is words that is used to link an independent clause and a dependent clause. It indicates the transition of a relationship in a sentence such as time or place. It also highlights the important clause of a sentence. She fainted because she didn’t eat lunch. The first part, she fainted is an independent clause. The second part she didn’t eat lunch is a dependent clause. It needs the first clause to make sense in the context of the sentence[ii].
Although is very commonly used to explain the reason behind a statement. Although can be followed by a subject and a verb.
The correct use of although and different clauses
There are two ways in which although can be used with clauses. The first one is:
Although + clause 1 + clause 2
Clause 1 + although + clause 2
Example sentences with the correct use of although
Although she is tired, she still agreed to a meeting
She still agreed to a meeting, although she is tired.
Although he is very rich, he lives in a small house.
She is very unhappy although she has a high paying job.
Chris went out in the rain although he didn’t have an umbrella.
Although she didn’t get the job, she still remains in high spirits.
Examples sentences with the INcorrect use of although
He went out although he didn’t have an umbrella.
Although she is crying, she doesn’t have any tissues.
The above mentioned sentences do not really have any meaning. When reading them there are no sense in either clause.
Although and despite are not interchangeable with each other without making structural changes to a sentence. Using one of the incorrect sentences, it can be corrected by using despite or in spite of.
He went out despite the fact that he did not have an umbrella.
In spite of not having any tissues, she is crying.
Now the sentences make sense, and despite and in spite of is used correctly.
There are two golden rules to remember when using despite and although.
Despite is a preposition, that is followed by a noun or pronoun and it cannot link clauses. Remember it by using PNPC (preposition, noun, pronoun, clause).
Although is a subordinating conjunction, that is followed by a clause, which is a verb and subject, and it links two clauses.
Before deciding which word to use, check to see if the other elements are there and if it fits the grammatical requirements[iii]. Writing down a sentence that has the words in, that needs to be mastered, will help in the dissection of the sentence. It is always advisable to identify each word in the sentence as a noun, pronoun, verb, adjective etc. Then decide which word needs to be used in the correct way.