Contrast clauses
Introduction:
You use contrast clauses when you want to make two statements, one of which contrasts with the other or makes it appear unexpected or surprising. Some contrast clauses – called concessive clauses – are introduced by conjunctions such as although, even though or while.

Although Mrs. Sims had lived in Hong Kong all her life, she knew very little Cantonese.

While the number of families with access to the Internet and cable television has risen sharply in the past decade, what tends to be overlooked is that a significant proportion of households are unable to afford the fees for these services.

Don’t use but in sentences beginning with although, even though or while. Here is a common mistake:

Although Kelvin worked hard, but he failed the examination.

You can leave out the subject and the verb be in a contrast clause when the subject of the contrast clause and the main clause are the same (e.g. he was in the following sentence).

Though / Although [he was] hard working, Kelvin failed the examination.

You will sometimes see the word albeit used in formal English. Albeit can come before an adjective, adverb, or adverbial phrase. In the sentence below, ‘albeit rather reluctantly’ means ‘even though she did so rather reluctantly’.

Jayne participated in the charity walk, albeit rather reluctantly.

You can also use despite or in spite of to make a contrast. These are followed by either a noun phrase or an ‘ing’ form.

Despite working hard, Kelvin failed the examination.
In spite of his hard work, Kelvin failed the examination.

This sentence is incorrect:

Despite he worked hard, Kelvin failed the examination.

If you want to follow despite or in spite of with a clause you must add the fact that.

Despite the fact that he worked hard, Kelvin failed the examination.

The word yet has many meanings. One of these is a similar meaning to but, although it expresses more surprise about something unexpected. It can come between adjectives, adverbs or clauses. For example:

He was poor yet generous.
He worked slowly yet effectively.
He loved animals, yet he hated snakes.
Exercise 1 Combine the sentences
Combine the following sentences using the conjunctions in bold to introduce contrast. More than one type of word order is possible.

Example
I enjoy water sports. I don’t enjoy swimming in the sea. much as
Answer:
Much as I enjoy water sports, I don’t enjoy swimming in the sea.
Question 1
I work overtime whenever I can. I never save money. despite
Your Answer:
Answer:
Despite working overtime whenever I can, I never save money.
OR
Despite the fact that I work overtime whenever I can, I never save money.
Question 2
The book was a bestseller. The movie was a flop. although
Your Answer:
Answer:
Although the book was a bestseller, the movie was a flop.
Question 3
I paid HK$800 for these boots. They are wearing thin after a month. even though
Your Answer:
Answer:
Even though I paid HK$800 for these boots, they are wearing thin after a month.
Question 4
The Central district is so polluted. It attracts thousands of visitors each day. considering that
Your Answer:
Answer:
Considering that the Central district is so polluted, it attracts thousands of visitors each day.
Question 5
I intend to go swimming in the sea. The typhoon signal 3 is hoisted. even if
Your Answer:
Answer:
Even if the typhoon signal 3 is hoisted, I intend to go swimming in the sea.
Question 6
I like you. I will not stand for that kind of behaviour. much as
Your Answer:
Answer:
Much as I like you, I will not stand for that kind of behaviour.
Question 7
Your application is impressive. There is no opening for you at this time. whereas
Your Answer:
Answer:
Whereas your application is impressive, there is no opening for you at this time.
Question 8
It was 40 degrees centigrade. We reached the summit by noon. in spite of
Your Answer:
Answer:
In spite of the fact that it was 40 degrees centigrade, we reached the summit by noon.
OR:
In spite of being 40 degrees centigrade, we reached the summit by noon.

Exercise 2 Sentence rewriting
Look at the following structures:

He was over 60, but he still got the job
  1. In spite of /despite the fact that he was over 60, he got the job.
  2. In spite of/despite being over 60, he got the job
Change the sentences below in the same way with in spite of /despite:

Question 1
She studies fashion and design, but she has no dress sense.
Your Answer:
Answer:
  1. In spite of/despite the fact that she studies fashion and design, she has no dress sense.
  2. In spite of/despite studying fashion and design, she has no dress sense.
Question 2
He was born blind, but he makes a good living from selling his artwork.
Your Answer:
Answer:
  1. In spite of/despite the fact that he was born blind, he makes a good living from selling his artwork.
  2. In spite of/despite being born blind, he makes a good living from selling his artwork.
Question 3
Her parents withheld their consent, but she got married anyway.
Your Answer:
Answer:
  1. In spite of/despite the fact that her parents withheld their consent, she got married anyway.
  2. In spite of/despite her parents withholding their consent, she got married anyway
Question 4
Angel never arrived on time for her classes, but she achieved an outstanding GPA.
Your Answer:
Answer:
  1. In spite of/despite the fact that she never arrived on time for her classes, Angel achieved an outstanding GPA.
  2. In spite of/despite never arriving on time for her classes, Angel achieved an outstanding GPA.
Question 5
I eat a lot of fat, but I always manage to stay slim.
Your Answer:
Answer:
  1. In spite of/despite the fact that I eat a lot of fat, I always manage to stay slim.
  2. In spite of/despite eating a lot of fat, I always manage to stay slim.
Question 6
The price of flats is prohibitively high, but property prices are still rising.
Your Answer:
Answer:
  1. In spite of/despite the fact that the price of flats is prohibitively high, property prices are still rising.
  2. In spite of/despite the price of flats being prohibitively high, property prices are still rising.

Reason clauses
In your written and spoken assignments you will often need to answer the question ‘Why?’. When you want to explain why something happens, you can use a reason clause introduced by the conjunctions because, as or since.
  • As she wanted to practise her spoken English, Carrie regularly took part in the ELC’s Big Mouth Corner.
Mark joined the English Drama Club because he wanted to improve his intonation.

Don’t use so in sentences beginning with since, as or because. Here is a common mistake:

Since he was interested in movies, so David joined the PolyU International Film Society.

You can also use the prepositional phrases because of, seeing that and on account of to express reason.
  • We were unable to carry out the experiment on account of a malfunction in the computer.
  • We were unable to carry out the experiment seeing that there was a malfunction in the computer.
  • We were unable to carry out the experiment because the computer malfunctioned.

Matching task
Match the main clause on the left hand side with the subordinate clause on the right hand side, so that the sentence makes sense.


Gap fill with conjunctions of contrast and reason
Put the conjunctions below into the spaces in the text that follows. In some cases, more than one option is possible.
  • because of
  • since
  • in spite of
  • because
  • seeing that
  • although

Management Services Report

Many of the public areas are obstructed since because seeing that some residents have been putting personal belongings outside the doors. In spite of warnings posted on the notice boards, some residents have continued to do this. Another problem is waste disposal. Some residents fail to put the lids back on the bins and because of this thoughtlessness, cockroaches have been sighted on the stairwells. Although we have laid bait traps all over the building, we cannot solve the problem because since seeing that people continue to leave rubbish exposed. Seeing that Because Since such behaviour poses a severe health hazard, we should consider legal action against persistent offenders.

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