Thursday, 29 January 2009

Specific Grammar Exercises/Although, In Spite Of, Despite

Academic structures often wrongly used: Although, In Spite Of, Despite

Problem: Students often have trouble using them in terms of grammar, position and sense.

Remedy: Study the examples below, then read the notes that come after them. When you’ve done that, try the exercise.


1) Despite the bad weather, we went ahead with the barbecue.

2) Although I haven’t got much money, I’m determined to have a holiday this year.

3) The government went to war, in spite of the fact that it was unpopular with the public. 

4) She was accepted for a pure mathematics degree at Oxford, although she was only eleven.

5) Despite the fact that your spoken English has improved, you still need to work on your writing.

6) In spite of being told how to link sentences, the student still couldn’t understand it.

7) The majority of students don’t write proper essay plans, although they have been shown how to do it many times.


The links can be at the beginning or in the middle of the sentence, and are attached to the beginning of that clause (“piece” of a sentence) which makes the statement perhaps a little surprising. For example: “He was good at kissing, despite being English”.
“In spite of” and “despite” have the same meaning and behave in the same way grammatically. They can be followed by a gerund (see 6 above), or by “the fact that + subject + verb"(see 3 and 5 above). In simple sentences they can also be followed just by a noun (see 1 above).

“Although” is followed by a normal subject + verb structure (see 2,4 and 7 above)

If you understand everything above, try to use the structures below......



Rewrite the following sentence using each of the three links:

A law was passed (made) to deal with this in 1999. It is not often enforced (used).

1) Although...

.....Please write your answer here:[ANSWER]

2) In spite of... [ANSWER]

3) Despite...


When you've rewritten the sentences, check further down the page to see if they're the same as the suggested answers..............



1)Although a law was passed to deal with this in 1999, it is not often enforced.


A law was passed to deal with this in 1999, although it is not often enforced.

2)In spite of the fact that a law was passed to deal with this in 1999, it is not often enforced.

(Note: “A law was passed to deal with this in 1999, in spite of the fact that it is not often enforced” is NOT possible. The law couldn’t possibly have been enforced before it was passed. “In spite of” will generally be attached to the first of the two actions or situations)


In spite of a law being passed to deal with this in 1999, it is not often enforced.

3)Despite the fact that a law was passed to deal with this in 1999, it is not often enforced.


Despite a law being passed to deal with this in 1999, it is not often enforced.

Additional notes on related words and structures:

1. “Even though” is a stronger or more emphatic form of


> He attacked the enemy soldiers, even though he knew he would be killed.

2. Sometimes you might see “though” used instead of


> He carried on working, though he was exhausted.

3. Sometimes “though” is used in another way, where it is 


substituted for “but”. It's a bit more "posh" (formal or

high class) than “but”. 

> The material is light, though strong.

Photo Album

Water dripping from the ceiling leaves deposits of calcium carbonate which form into stalactites. "Stalactites" are what you can see coming down from the roof of the cave in the picture. "Dripping" is the verb we use for what happens when drops of water slowly fall to the ground. Which tense is it?


It isn't a tense, it's a present participle active which substitutes for a relative clause. It sounds difficult if you don't know a lot of grammar, but if you have read and understood "Essential Grammar Terms" it will certainly help to understand the following:
Relative clauses are clauses beginning with "who" or "which" or "that". They show the relationships between things.

"Dripping, writing, buying" are present participles. Don't confuse them with "He is running", which is the present continuous tense.
Water dripping from the ceiling.......... substitutes for:
Water which drips from the ceiling. It's called the present participle active because it substitutes for a verb ("drips") in the active voice . Here is another example:
Students wanting to enter the exam must register.
Students who want to enter the exam must register.(Photo: Mt. Robson, British Columbia, Canada.)
The past participle passive can be used in a similar way. "Dripped, written, bought" are past participles. Here is the substitution: as in these examples:
Clothes bought in the sale cannot be returned.
Clothes which have been bought in the sale cannot be returned. Here they substitute for a verb ("have been bought") which is in the passive voice. Note that the tense of the verbs in the relative clause is not important, as the participles can substitute for any tense.

(Photo: Limestone caves, Postojna, Slovenia, Eastern Europe)

Do you get it?

clerk - (usually male) office worker
light shade - cover for a light
light bulb - see picture above
to head off - to go in the direction of
to demand - to "ask", but in a "bossy" way
man/chap/guy/bloke/fellow - all the same, more or less!

The boss goes into the office where two clerks, Eric and Marty, are supposed to be hard at work and is shocked to see one of them standing on his desk with his head pushed up inside the light shade.

“Hey Eric – what’s up?” says the boss man. “Why are you standing up there on the desk with your head in the light shade?”

“Because I think I’m a light bulb”, responds Eric.

“Listen old chap,” says the boss, who is an understanding sort of fellow, as bosses go, “you’ve been working very hard lately. Perhaps you need a rest. Take the rest of the week off, why don’t you?”

“O.K. boss, thanks,” says Eric, and heads off out of the door, followed closely by the other clerk.

“Hey Marty, where do you think you’re going?” the boss demands to know.

“Well,” says the second man, “you can’t expect me to work in the dark!”


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