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“Despite” vs. “In Spite Of”

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Many people question if “despite” and “in spite of” can be used interchangeably. We’ll go over this answer, and explain how to use these prepositions correctly.

White text over orange background that reads "despite and in spite of."
“Despite” and “In spite of” are prepositions.

  • The terms despite and in spite of have the same meaning: “even though,” “notwithstanding,” and “regardless of.”
  • These two terms can be used interchangeably.

Is There a Difference Between “Despite” and “In Spite Of”

Despite what others may tell you, despite and in spite of have the same meaning and are used the same way. The only difference between these terms 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.”

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.

Synonyms for these terms are “even though,” “notwithstanding,” and “regardless of.”

Joshua lost the race, regardless of being the fastest runner on the track.

How To Use “Despite” and “In Spite Of”

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

These terms show contrast or some sort of relationship between an independent clause (a clause that can stand on its own as a complete sentence) and a dependent clause (a clause that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence).

Despite and in spite of should be placed at the beginning of the dependent clause:

In spite of studying for months, Monica did not pass the state’s bar exam.

In the example above, “studying for months” is the dependent clause, and “Monica did not pass the state’s bar exam” is the independent clause.

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

Noun (a person, place, thing, or idea):

He suddenly felt hot, in spite of the freezing weather.

Gerund (a verb form that ends in “–ing” that is used as a noun):

Despite all my meditating, I still felt anxious.

Phrases that start with how, who, what, where, why, when:

They forgave each other, despite what was said.

Tips To Remember When Using “Despite” and “In Spite Of”

The prepositions despite and in spite of are used to show a contrast between an independent clause and a dependent clause.

Other tips you should keep in mind when using these terms are:

  1. There’s nothing wrong with using in spite of, but despite is the less wordy, more concise option of the two.
  2. Never put “of” after despite. It’s either despite or in spite of, not despite of.
  3. 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,” means Luna cried even though she didn’t want to.
  4. Despite being a great writer, spelling and grammar errors can slip into your writing. That’s why it’s a good idea to use LanguageTool as your intelligent text editor.

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