However vs. Despite — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on September 21, 2023
"However" is a conjunctive adverb indicating contrast; "Despite" is a preposition meaning "in spite of."
Difference Between However and Despite
Table of Contents
"However" serves as a conjunctive adverb, playing a critical role in indicating a contrast or contradiction in relation to the statement that preceded it. When using "However," it's like saying, "on the other hand." For instance, you might say, "I wanted to visit Paris; however, I didn't have enough funds." In this context, "However" introduces a contradiction to the prior desire to visit Paris. On the contrary, "Despite" is a preposition that sets up a scenario where an expectation is subverted. It's synonymous with "in spite of."
In another perspective, "However" often requires more structural changes in a sentence, typically being used to start a new sentence or after a semicolon. For instance, "She was tired. However, she completed her assignment." "Despite," being a preposition, introduces a noun or noun phrase and doesn't usually alter the structure of the main clause. An example would be, "Despite her fatigue, she completed her assignment."
In terms of flexibility, "However" can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, depending on the intended emphasis. For instance, "However, she didn't agree" or "She didn't, however, agree" or "She didn't agree, however." On the other side, "Despite" has a more fixed placement, primarily coming before the condition being contrasted, like, "Despite the rain, we had fun."
Lastly, it's essential to understand that while both "However" and "Despite" are used to show contrast, their grammatical roles are different. "However" can function in various capacities within a sentence, including as an interrupter. In comparison, "Despite" will always serve as a preposition, demanding a noun or noun phrase to follow.
Part of Speech
Indicates "in spite of"
Can start, interrupt, or end a sentence
Usually precedes a noun or noun phrase
New sentence or semicolon for separation
Noun or noun phrase to follow
"He is rich; however, he is unhappy."
"Despite his wealth, he is unhappy."
Compare with Definitions
However indicates a contrast or contradiction.
He loves the sun; however, he avoids the beach.
Despite introduces a condition yet an opposing outcome occurs.
Despite the warnings, he ventured into the forest.
However can express to whatever extent or degree.
However much you try, it's not enough.
Despite introduces an element of surprise in an outcome.
Despite his lack of experience, he succeeded.
However can suggest in whatever way or manner.
You can organize the event however you like.
Despite means without being affected by.
Despite the pain, she finished the marathon.
However means nevertheless or yet.
It's hard work; it is, however, rewarding.
Despite signifies resistance to something.
He laughed despite himself.
However can express surprise about the manner of something.
However did you solve that complex puzzle?
Despite shows that something happened even if it wasn't expected to because of a particular reason.
She danced beautifully, despite having an injured foot.
In spite of that; nevertheless; yet
The book is expensive.
However, it's worth it.
Without being affected by; in spite of
He remains a great leader despite age and infirmity
On the other hand; by contrast
The first part was easy.
The second, however, took hours.
Contemptuous treatment or behaviour; outrage
The despite done by him to the holy relics
To whatever degree or extent
"The prospect of success, however remote, was tantalizing" (Stephen Baker).
The theatre only earns my despite
In what way. Used as an intensive of how
However did you get here so soon?.
In spite of; notwithstanding
Won the game despite overwhelming odds.
In whatever manner or way that
Dress however you like.
Contemptuous defiance or disregard.
(Archaic) Notwithstanding that; although
"Howe'er thou art a fiend, / a woman's shape doth shield thee" (Shakespeare).
"He died soon after ... of pure despite and vexation" (Sir Walter Scott).
(conjunctive) Nevertheless; yet, still; in spite of that.
He told me not to do it. However, I did it anyway. / I did it anyway, however. / I, however, did it anyway.
She wanted to go; however, she decided against it.
I didn't argue with him; I still think, however, that he is wrong.
In spite of, notwithstanding.
(conjunctive) In contrast.
The conference itself went very well. The party afterwards, however, was a disaster.
(obsolete) Disdain, contemptuous feelings, hatred.
(degree) To whatever degree or extent.
However clear you think you've been, many questions will remain.
(archaic) Action or behaviour displaying such feelings; an outrage, insult.
In any way that one likes or chooses; in a haphazard or spontaneous way.
I don't care; just do it however.
Nothing was really planned; things just happened however.
Evil feeling; malice, spite, annoyance.
(interrogative) How ever: an emphatic form of how, used to ask in what manner.
I thought it was impossible. However were you able to do it?
(obsolete) To vex; to annoy; to offend contemptuously.
(obsolete) In any case, at any rate, at all events.
Malice; malignity; spite; malicious anger; contemptuous hate.
With all thy despite against the land of Israel.
Regardless of the way in which.
Let me know when you've had your interview, however it goes.
However we do this, it isn't going to work.
An act of malice, hatred, or defiance; contemptuous defiance; a deed of contempt.
A despite done against the Most High.
In any way in which.
She offered to help however she could.
Wear your hair however you want.
To vex; to annoy; to offend contemptuously.
(proscribed) But, yet, though, although.
In spite of; against, or in defiance of; notwithstanding; as, despite his prejudices.
In whetever manner, way, or degree.
However yet they me despise and spite.
Howe'er the business goes, you have made fault.
Lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike;
He was held in contempt
The despite in which outsiders were held is legendary
At all events; at least; in any case.
Our chief end is to be freed from all, if it may be, however from the greatest evils.
She wanted neither favor nor despite
Nevertheless; notwithstanding; yet; still; though; as, I shall not oppose your design; I can not, however, approve of it.
In your excuse your love does little say;You might howe'er have took a better way.
Despite anything to the contrary (usually following a concession);
Although I'm a little afraid, however I'd like to try it
While we disliked each other, nevertheless we agreed
He was a stern yet fair master
Granted that it is dangerous, all the same I still want to go
By contrast; on the other hand;
The first part was easy; the second, however, took hours
To whatever degree or extent;
The results, however general, are important
They have begun, however reluctantly, to acknowledge the legitimacy of some of the opposition's concerns
In whatever way or manner;
Victory, however it was brought about, was sweet
However he did it, it was very clever
In what way or manner or by what means (`however' is sometimes used as an intensive form of `how');
How did you catch the snake?
He told us how he did it
However did you get here so soon?
What part of speech is "However"?
"However" is primarily a conjunctive adverb.
How do you use "However" in a sentence?
"However" can begin, interrupt, or conclude a sentence to show contrast. E.g., "I like cats. However, I am allergic."
Do I always need a noun after "Despite"?
Yes, "Despite" is a preposition and requires a noun or noun phrase following it.
How is "Despite" different from "Although"?
"Despite" is a preposition, while "Although" is a conjunction. They serve similar contrastive functions but have different grammatical structures.
Is it correct to say, "Despite of the rain"?
No, the correct form is "Despite the rain."
Can "However" and "But" be used the same way?
Both indicate contrast, but "However" is more formal and can be more versatile in placement.
Why might one choose "However" over "But"?
"However" is more formal and can be used for emphasis or clarity.
Can "Despite" and "In spite of" be used interchangeably?
Yes, "Despite" and "In spite of" generally have the same meaning.
Can "However" be used to show surprise?
Yes, in contexts like "However did you manage that?"
How do I decide between using "However" or "Despite"?
Consider the structure. If you're contrasting whole sentences, "However" may be better. If contrasting a condition with an outcome, "Despite" might fit.
Is "However" always about contrast?
Most commonly, yes, but it can also express extent or manner.
Is "Despite" always followed by a negative outcome?
Not necessarily. "Despite" introduces contrast, not always negativity.
Can I start a sentence with "Despite"?
Yes, e.g., "Despite his age, he ran the marathon."
Are there synonyms for "However"?
Yes, "nevertheless," "yet," and "nonetheless" can be synonyms, depending on the context.
What punctuation do I use with "However"?
When contrasting, it's often used after a semicolon or period, followed by a comma: "She was early; however, the bus was late."
Share Your Discovery
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.