Despite and in spite of are a preposition and a three-word prepositional phrase that have the same meaning. Both of them mean “even though,” “although,” or “regardless of.” We use them to show the contrast between something that’s expected and a different outcome.
In spite of his plans to lose weight, he ate the ice cream.
They decided to sneak out of the house despite the warning.
In the examples above, we see information that’s supposed to influence the final outcome — a plan and warning. But in both sentences, the subject does just the opposite of what’s been expected.
Unlike “in spite of” and “despite,” “inspite” is not a word.
Despite vs. In spite of — what is the difference?
There’s virtually no difference between “in spite of” and “despite.” In most cases, we can use them interchangeably. The only exceptions are idiomatic expressions, such as “in spite of himself/herself/themselves.” In these expressions, it would not be correct to say or write “despite” instead of “in spite of.”
Despite and in spite of — meaning and rules
Both prepositions can show up anywhere in the sentence - at the beginning, the middle, or near the end - but it’s never the last word. When “in spite of” or “despite” is placed near the beginning of a sentence, it usually needs an additional clause.
Let’s look at more examples:
In spite of the bad weather, they didn’t want to skip the chance to go to the beach.
Despite unpleasant circumstances, she kept a smile on her face.
How to use despite and in spite of in a sentence
Both expressions are normally followed by (1) a noun or noun phrase, (2) a gerund, or (3) a phrase that begins with “what” or “how.”
1. He fought in spite of his fear.
2. Despite doing his best, he couldn’t make it.
3. She smiled in spite of how she really felt.
How not to use in spite of and despite
We’ve already seen that “in spite of” consists of three separate words and that “despite” should never be followed by “of.” In addition to that, there’s another rule you need to be aware of.
If you’d like to use a that-clause and, for example, say that you woke up early despite going to bed late, you can’t say I woke up early despite that I went to bed late. But you definitely can say I got up early in spite of the fact that I went to bed late.