Despite vs In Spite of | Difference, Examples & Use

Despite and in spite of are both prepositions meaning ‘regardless of‘, ‘even though’, or ‘notwithstanding’. They can be used interchangeably.

  • Despite is always written as one word (never ‘despite of‘).
  • In spite of is always written as three words (never ‘inspite of’).
Examples: Despite and in spite of in a sentence
Despite/in spite of his bad behaviour, the child was not grounded.

People lined up outside the store, despite/in spite of the weather.

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How to use them in a sentence

Despite and in spite of are always used in a subordinate clause to contrast with information given in the main clause of a sentence.

They’re typically used before nouns, gerunds, and phrases containing a relative pronoun (e.g., ‘what’, ‘who’).

Examples: How to use despite and in spite of 
Lisa is travelling through Europe by train, despite/in spite of the cost.

Despite/in spite of my practising every day, I still can’t play the piano.

Despite/in spite of what others have said, I think it’s a good book.

Note
While despite and in spite of can be used before the demonstrative pronoun ‘that’ by itself to refer to previously mentioned information (e.g., ‘Despite/in spite of that, I’m not going’), they’re never used before a phrase starting with ‘that’. Instead, we use ‘despite/in spite of the fact that’:

  • Despite/in spite of that it was late, Patrick drank coffee.
  • Despite/in spite of the fact that it was late, Patrick drank coffee.

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Despite oneself or in spite of oneself

Despite oneself and in spite of oneself are phrases used to mean that someone did something even though they did not expect or want to. Both phrases are acceptable and can be used with any reflexive pronoun (e.g., ‘myself’, ‘herself’, ‘himself’).

 Example: Despite and in spite of oneself in a sentence
Despite/in spite of herself, Freya felt sympathy for John.

Other interesting language articles

If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

Frequently asked questions

What does in spite of mean?

In spite of is a preposition used to mean ‘regardless of‘, ‘notwithstanding’, or ‘even though’.

It’s always used in a subordinate clause to contrast with the information given in the main clause of a sentence (e.g., ‘Amy continued to watch TV, in spite of the time’).

What does despite mean?

Despite is a preposition used to mean ‘regardless of‘, ‘notwithstanding’, or ‘even though’.

It’s used in a subordinate clause to contrast with information given in the main clause of a sentence (e.g., ‘Despite the stress, Joe loves his job’).

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Ryan, E. (2023, March 02). Despite vs In Spite of | Difference, Examples & Use. Scribbr. Retrieved 14 May 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/frequently-confused-words/despite-or-in-spite-of/

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Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.