What is the Difference Between "Despite" and "In Spite of"?

In spite of is a general-purpose preposition of concession (i.e. accepting something as right, granting something as true or acknowledging defeat); despite is rather more formal. 

  • I love him, in spite of his faults.
  • There seems little else that I can do in spite of my earnest pleas.
  • Despite considerable efforts to proofread the book, it might still contain some errors. 
  • Large crowds are expected to line the river banks as they pass, despite a rainy forecast.

In spite of is a complex preposition -its meaning changes when any of its words is missing (e.g. in spite, spite of). It has a synonymous simple preposition despite, which must not be preceded by in or followed by of (e.g. in despite, despite of).  

  • He won the marathon in spite of/despite his injured left foot. 
  • In spite of/Despite Chuck's feelings of crisis, he couldn't see himself running on the streets in his pyjamas.
  • Thomas Carlyle, in spite of/despite his tedious rhetoric, is a master of the sublime in prose style.

In spite of this/that or despite this/that can be interchangeably used to suggest that something is surprising, in view of what was said before.

  • The train was an hour late. In spite of/Despite this, I managed to arrive to the office on time. 
  • Maria does not play chess regularly. In spite of/Despite this lack of enthusiasm, she won the tournament.
Designed by Neil Yamit