I’ve seen numerous students committing mistakes in usage of these two words which look similar, however, they’re more different than you can imagine. Both are used to show contrast, however, the nature of contrast is different.
Despite is used to introduce an idea that appears to contradict the main statement.
Although is used to introduce a subordinate clause that contrasts the statement in the main clause.
“We enjoyed the holidays despite heavy rains every day.”
“Although it rained every day (subordinate clause), we enjoyed the holidays (main clause).”
Note: Subordinate clause and main clause are separated by a comma.
“He completed the exam despite the pain in his head.”
“Although he had pain in the head (subordinate clause), he completed the exam (main clause).”
Since both subordinate and main clause are always complete sentences, we always prefer “subject-verb-object” structure in ALTHOUGH sentences. This construction is not required in DESPITE sentences. “Despite” sentences do not require mention of subjects again.
“Despite arriving late, she was able to complete her test.”
“Although she arrived late (subordinate clause), she was able to complete her test (main clause).”
Note: She = subject; arrived = verb; late = object of time.
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