- Although it was very cold and rainy (contrast clause expressing an obstacle), we enjoyed our trip to New York (main clause).
Subordinators in Contrast ClausesThe first word that introduces the contrast clause in the above example is called a subordinator. In this article, we are going to learn to use some concessive subordinators which you can confidently use in contrast clauses on a regular basis: although, even though, though, while, and whereas. The article will also show you how to use the prepositions in spite of and despite to express contrast, and I shall explain how you can use the adverb however and the conjunction/adverb though to talk about contrast.
But first of all, let me quickly explain how subordinators function. Subordinators are linking words that join clauses to make sentences. They have a big effect on words in sentences. A clause without a subordinator forms a complete statement and can stand alone, while a clause introduced by a subordinator cannot stand alone and therefore forms a statement that is incomplete. For example:
- It was very cold and rainy.
- Although it was cold and rainy. (the reader or listener wants to know what happens next because the thought is incomplete)
- Although it was very cold and rainy (subordinate contrast clause), we enjoyed our trip to London (main clause).
A note to remember: Main clauses are never introduced by subordinators and can therefore always form a complete thought. That's why they are also called independent clauses in English grammar.
Although, Though and Even ThoughAlthough, though and even though are subordinators used in contrast clauses. They are also called subordinating conjunctions. They all introduce an idea which contrasts with the main clause. For example:
- Although Tanya was half asleep, she remembered to set the house alarm.
- Though Tanya was half asleep, she remembered to set the house alarm.
- Even though Tanya was half asleep, she remembered to set the house alarm.
- I didn't get the job as an actor although I had all the necessary qualifications.
While and WhereasWe can use while or whereas, which are subordinating conjunctions, to say that something in the subordinate clause contrasts with something in the main clause. The two subordinators are interchangeable and show major contrast. For example:
- I am quiet and shy (main clause), while my sister is lively and talkative.
- I am quiet and shy (main clause), whereas my sister is lively and talkative.
- While/Whereas my father is strong and tall, I am short and weak.
In spite of and DespiteWe can use the prepositions in spite of and despite to talk about contrast. After them you always have to use a noun, a pronoun, or an ing form of a verb (gerund). For example:
- In spite of the rain(noun), we started to play basketball.
- Despite the rain (noun), we started to play basketball.
- In spite of having (gerund) a migraine headache, I decided to go out on a date.
- Despite having (gerund) a migraine headache, I decided to go out on a date.
Though and HoweverThough is not only a conjunction; if placed at the end of a sentence, it functions as an adverb. In spoken English, we can use though at the end of a sentence to show contrast. For example:
- The cottage isn't very nice. I like the garden though. (= but I like the garden)
- I see my neighbors every day. I've never spoken to them though. (= but I've never spoken to them)
- The cottage isn't very nice. However, I like the garden.
- I see my neighbors every day. However, I've never spoken to them.