Words and expressions used to express concession
- although, though, even though
- despite, in spite of
Getting more advanced
- while, whilst, whereas
- nevertheless, however, even so, all the same
- much as
- no matter how / what etc
- however, whatever, whoever etc
- adjective + as / though
- but still, but even so, but all the same
- (and) yet
Even more exotic
- when, if, albeit
- may ... but
- Contrastive emphasis with auxiliaries
Introduction - the difference between contrast and concession.
- Mary prefers coffee, but Peter prefers tea
- Although Mary usually prefers coffee, today she's drinking tea.
Ex 0 - introductory exercise - Contrast or concession?
|1.||Sally is blonde, but her sister is brunette.|
|2.||Although Sally originally wanted to become a lawyer, she finally decided on a career in medicine.|
|3.||This plan is fraught with problems. Nevertheless, I think we should go ahead with it.|
|4.||Mark's idea would be quite expensive. Sandy's, however, sounds relatively cheap.|
|5.||In spite of the crisis, this sector of the economy has been doing quite well.|
|6.||The South of England is relatively flat. The North, on the other hand, is much hillier.|
|7.||He's not the greatest conversationalist. Mind you, he is rather good-looking.|
|8.||In Geneva, most people speak French, whereas in Zurich they mainly speak German.|
|9.||Recent sales have been disappointing. However, this month is looking rather better.|
|10.||Much as I trust your judgement, this time In think we'll do it my way.|
Contrast clause or concession clause (aka Concessive clause)? A short note.
- Although everyone was tired, they kept going until it got dark.
(= concession - their action is slightly surprising given their tiredness)
- Although they accepted some of his recommendations, they rejected others.
(= contrast - between accepting some recommendation and rejecting others)
Section 1 - the basics
1a. Expressing concession with although, though, even though
- Although Mary usually prefers coffee, today she's drinking tea.
- Mary's drinking tea today although she usually prefers coffee.
- Although/though it had started to rain, we decided to go for a walk.
- He said he'd be on time although/though I doubt it, knowing him.
- Even though I knew I shouldn't, I had another of her delicious cakes.
- They were late even though they had taken a taxi.
- Although I was rather tired, I decided to stay up to see the late movie.
I was rather tired, although I decided to stay up to see the late movie.
- Although the film was a bit long, it was quite enjoyable.
Although the film was quite enjoyable, it was a bit long.
Though as an adverb.
- That's what she says, but what she really thinks, though, I have no idea.
- We'd better be going. - We've still got plenty of time, though.
|Exercise 1a||Complete the sentences|
|Use although + a sentence from the box, as in the example.|
|we don't know them very well||we'd never met before|
|there was a light on upstairs||I really like her|
|they still lost||I've never met him|
|we live in the country||she never went to university|
|we took a taxi|
|Eg.||Although we took a taxi, we were still late.|
|1.||, he sounds really interesting.|
|2.||, life is never dull.|
|3.||Nobody seemed to be at home .|
|4.||We asked them round for dinner .|
|5.||, we clicked immediately.|
|6.||She's very bright .|
|7.||They played really well .|
|8.||, she can be a bit distant sometimes.|
- a noun or noun phrase
In spite of the bad weather, we had a great time
- a pronoun
Everything seemed to go wrong, but we had a really good time in spite of it all.
- an -ing form (gerund) or gerund phrase -
Despite telling him three times, he still forgot.
- the fact that + clause
- In spite of the fact that she was pregnant, she kept working till the last moment.
- Despite the fact that it was raining, we went for a walk anyway.
- Although she was pregnant, she kept working till the last moment.
- Although it was raining, we went for a walk anyway.
|Exercise 1b||Choose the best option|
|1.||Although / Despite the rain, it was a great afternoon.|
|2.||We had a great time though / in spite of it rained a bit.|
|3.||She passed her test easily although / despite not doing much revision.|
|4.||Although / Despite the salary wasn't great, she took the job.|
|5.||Although / Despite coming first, she felt she could have done better.|
|6.||Although / In spite of coming first isn't everything, it sure helps.|
|7.||I managed to get tickets although / despite the queue was rather long.|
|8.||I didn't manage to get very good seats although / , though.|
Exercise 1c - Convert from although to despite
|Rewrite the sections in italics using despite and an -ing form|
|1.||Although he was a director, he didn't play a strong role in the company.|
, he didn't play a strong role in the company.
|2.||She always seemed to be short of cash, although she had plenty of money in the bank.|
She always seemed to be short of cash,
|3.||Although he talked a lot, he didn't often come up with any useful ideas.|
, he didn't often come up with any useful ideas.
Rewrite the sections in italics using despite and his/her/its + noun
|4.||Although she was beautiful, she was quite shy.|
, she was quite shy
|5.||We're going to buy this anyway, although it is expensive.|
We're going to buy this anyway,
|6.||Although he promised to call me back, he never did.|
, he never did.
Section 2 - more advanced
2a. While, (whilst) and whereas
The conjunction while is not only used to talk about time.
- He washed up the dishes while she put the children to bed.
- While he was washing up the dishes, the front doorbell rang.
|1.||It can be used to express a contrast, especially when comparing the same aspect of two different people, things or situations, etc. The while-clause can come first or second, but most commonly seems to appear second.|
- Italy is in the south of Europe, while Sweden is in the north.
- While Sally has blue eyes, her sister has brown ones.
|2.||We can also use while to express concession, when it can usually be replaced by although. In this meaning the while-clause always comes first. (See note at end).|
- While I understand your point of view, I'm afraid I have to disagree with you.
- While results have been pretty good so far, we shouldn't get too complacent
- While Peterson scored the first two goals, the third was headed in by Jennings.
- This could be ambiguous - were all three goals scored at the same time? So we could either change it slightly:
- While it was Peterson who scored the first two goals, the third was headed in by Jennings.
- This makes the sense of contrast, rather than time, clearer. Or we could avoid while altogether:
- Peterson scored the first two goals and/but the third was headed in by Jennings.
- I believe in the Loch Ness monster, whereas / while my brother doesn't.
- Whereas / While she likes jazz, I prefer opera.
- He is quite tall, while / whereas his brother is rather short.
- Whereas (While) more than ninety percent of British children go to state schools, a recent study has shown that as many as 50% of the top jobs in the country are held by people who were educated at elite 'independent' (i.e. private) schools.
- Whereas (While) most of the party's MPs support the government on this issue, a small handful are determined to vote against the party line.
- Whereas (While) sales have been excellent for most of the summer, for some reason we're not sure about, they declined in August.
- Whereas (While) most patients recover from this illness fairly quickly, a few develop complications, which can cause the illness to linger.
Comparing although, while and whereas.
- Although I'd already eaten, I decided to go with some friends for a sushi anyway.
- Although I get on well with Peter, I don't like his brother very much.
- While/Although we've only known each other a short time, we get on really well.
- Whereas / While I've only known Mark for a short time, I've known his brother for much longer.
- While / Whereas we've only known each other a short time, we get on really well.
- although - mainly used for concession, with some overlap into contrast.
- whereas - mainly for strong contrast, with some overlap into concession.
- while - can usually be used for both concession and contrast.
|Exercise 2||Choose the word that fits best although / while), or contrast (whereas / while).. Sometimes both answers are possible, so try and decide which the sentence expresses more strongly - concession (|
|1.||I see what you're getting at, I don't necessarily agree with you.|
|Whereas - While|
|2.||France is quite centralised, Germany is more federal in nature.|
|although - whereas|
|3.||she's only lived here a few years, she speaks English fluently.|
|Although - Whereas|
|4.||The elder daughter is training to be an engineer, her sister is studying medicine.|
|whereas - while|
|5.||the climate on the west coast is relatively warm and wet, on the east coast it's colder and drier.|
|Although - While|
|6.||She's usually right about these things this time I think she's mistaken.|
|although - while|
|7.||I got completely lost, I'd been there a couple of times before.|
|although - whereas|
|8.||in the past this type of information was only available to a few, now it is available to anyone with an internet connection.|
|Although - Whereas|
|9.||Most first year students live in student residences, those in their second and third years tend to prefer living in flats.|
|although - while|
|10.||The Prime Minister has announced early elections nobody really knows quite why.|
|although - while|
|11.||United have won five out of their six matches so far, City have only managed to win one.|
|although - whereas|
|12.||the company haven't made an official announcement, many commentators expect them to launch the long-awaited new model next week.|
|Whereas - While|
3. Even though and even if
- Even though he's busy, I think you should ask him.
= Despite the fact that he's busy, ...
I know that he's busy - we know that the information in the concessive clause is true.
- Even if he's busy, I think you should ask him.
= Whether or not he's busy, ...
I don't know for sure whether he's busy or not - the information in the concessive clause may be true, but we don't know for certain.
|Exercise 3||even though or even if - choose the best option|
|1.||She stayed out late even though / even if I told her to be back early.|
|2.||Even though / Even if they win, they can't get through the next round.|
|3.||He agreed to meet them even though / even if he knew that it was pointless.|
|4.||I really enjoyed the film, even though / even if I don't usually like Westerns.|
|5.||It's worth going for the interview, even though / even if they turn you down.|
|6.||We're going for a walk later even though / even if it doesn't clear up.|
|7.||Even though / Even if we've met a few times, I don't know him very well.|
|8.||Even though / Even if we did turn up a bit late, it wouldn't really matter.|
4. Other ways of introducing an unexpected contrast
4a. Conjunctive adverbs and adverbials
My wife likes the mornings best. I, however, prefer the evenings.
- on the other hand
The West coast is quite wet. On the other hand, it is also quite warm.
- in contrast
The West coast is quite wet. In contrast, the east coast is much drier.
In contrast to the east coast, the west coast in quite wet.
- nevertheless, nonetheless (more formal)
We'd seen the film before. Nevertheless, my wife wanted to watch it again.
I'd rather have watched the football - however, I agreed to watch the film.
- even so
It was a quite good film. Even so, I'd have preferred to watch the football.
- all the same
I quite enjoyed it; all the same, I prefer something a bit more lively.
- My wife likes the mornings best. I prefer the evenings, however.
- We'd seen the film before. My wife wanted to watch it again, nevertheless.
4b Much as + subj + verb
- Much as I like her, this is going too far
(even though I like her)
- OK, I'll do the washing up, much as I detest it!
(even though I detest it)
4c. It doesn't matter / no matter how /what etc
- It didn't matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't do it.
- No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't do it.
- (Even though he tried very hard)
4d. however, whatever, whichever
- however + adjective
However tired she was, she always managed to cook a meal.
- however + adverb
He just couldn't manage, however hard he tried.
- however much / many
I'm not changing my mind, however much you ask me.
However many times you ask me, the answer will still be no!
- whatever, whenever etc
We'll do it, whatever it takes.
Nobody talks to me like that, whoever they are!
I Will Be Right Here Waiting For You
I will be right here waiting for you
whatever it takes, or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you
|1.||much she practised, she just couldn't get the hang of it.|
|2.||The people were incredibly friendly, we went.|
|3.||we had already eaten, we went for a pizza.|
|4.||I've made my mind up, she says about it.|
|5.||No how hard I try, I just can't open this jar.|
|6.||We went for a long walk, the wet weather.|
|7.||Tired we were, we managed to make it to the top of the hill.|
|8.||we spoke to told us the same thing.|
|9.||I've always been fairly relaxed, my sister gets a bit uptight.|
|10.||as I love our holidays in Spain, I do like a change sometimes.|
|11.||He did a lot of revision, but failed the exam.|
|12.||We're going to be late, way we go.|
4e. Adjective + as/though + subject + linking verb
- Although the exam was difficult, he passed it easily.
- Difficult though the exam was, he passed it easily.
- Talented though/as she is, she didn't get the first prize.
(even though she's talented.)
- Smart though/as she appears, she was unable to answer the question.
(even though she appears smart)
- Surprising though/as it sounds, I've never been to London.
(even though it sounds amazing)
|Exercise 4b||Match the sentence halves, giving special emphasis to the adjectives by moving them to the front of the sentence and adding though, as in the example.|
|It sounds fascinating||He is rich|
|He was exhausted||He was outclassed|
|He is good||His answer was unlikely|
|It may seem strange||The train is fast|
|The food was delicious|
|eg.||Delicious though the food was||, I couldn't eat another thing.|
|1.||, he hasn't had a holiday for years.|
|2.||, he isn't as talented as my brother.|
|3.||, it still took us most of the day to get there.|
|4.||, I think I'll give it a miss.|
|5.||, he's not exactly generous with his money.|
|6.||, it turned out that he was actually correct.|
|7.||, he managed to complete the whole course.|
|8.||, he still put in an excellent performance.|
4f. But / yet (+ still / even so / all the same)
- but still
He ran his best race yet, but still managed to come almost last.
(even though he ran his best race yet)
- but even so
There may be some problems, but even so, I think we should go ahead.
There may be some problems, but I think we should go ahead even so.
(even though there may be some problems)
- but all the same
He made a big mistake, but all the same, I think we should give him a second chance.
He made a big mistake, but I think we should give him a second chance all the same
(even though he made a big mistake)
- The neighbourhood is only five minutes from the city centre; yet it is a haven of peace and quiet.
(even though the neighourhood is only ten minutes from the city centre)
- He put in his best performance to date, and yet failed to even win a medal.
(even though he put in his best performance to date)
More exotic ways of saying although / even though
- He stayed out late when I specifically told him to be back by midnight.
(even though I specifically told him)
- She did it all by herself when she could easily have asked for help
(even though she could have asked for help)
- He brought me a white coffee when I'd asked for a black one.
(although I'd asked for a black one)
5b. if and if not
- The salary is pretty good, if slightly less than I was hoping for.
(although (it's) slightly less than I was hoping for)
- The flat is in a lovely area, if a bit far from the city centre.
(although (it's) a bit far from the city centre)
- It’s possible, if difficult.
(although it may be difficult)
- She is very bright, if not a genius.
- She is very bright, although not a genius.
- She is very bright, perhaps even a genius.
5c. ... may ... but ...
- David may have passed with a higher grade, but Sally shows the better attitude.
(Although David passed with a higher grade, Sally shows the better attitude)
- Sally may not be the highest qualified, but she does have the most experience.
(Although Sally isn't the highest qualified, she does have the most experience)
- It may be a demanding job, but at least it's not boring.
(Although it's a demanding job, at least it isn't boring)
- The climb may have been a long one, but it was certainly worth it for the views.
(Although the climb was a long one, it was certainly worth it for the views)
- They finally agreed, albeit reluctantly, to accept our offer.
- They made their way up the hill, albeit rather slowly.
- She finally accepted his idea, albeit with some hesitation.
- He tried as hard as he could, albeit without much success.
5e. Contrastive emphasis with auxiliaries
- I don't like jam, although I do like marmalade.
- We don't usually like his films, but we did like his last one.
- They've never been to Paris, although they have been to France several times.
- He can't snowboard, although he can ski quite well.
5f. As ... as ...
6. Some advanced points
6a Non-finite and verbless concessive clauses
-ing forms - active meaning
- While not wanting to offend him, she was nevertheless determined to be frank.
(while she didn't want to offend him)
- Although generally singing her praises, he could, at times, be quite critical.
(although he generally sang her praises)
3rd forms - passive meaning
- Though given every chance, he refused to explain his actions.
(though he was given every chance)
- Even though asked very politely, she still refused to help.
(even though she was asked very politely)
- While certainly a gifted musician, he was rather outclassed in this competition.
(while he is certainly a gifted musician)
- He is fitter than most fifty-year-olds though well into his eighties.
(though he is well into his eighties)
6b Fronting of concessive clauses
- Hard as he tried, he couldn't budge (move) it.
((even though he tried hard)
- Idiot though I may be, I'm not that stupid.
(although I may be an idiot)
- Try as he might, he just couldn't find his keys anywhere.
(even though he tried very hard)
- Fail though she did this time, she didn't give up hope of passing eventually.
(although she failed this time).
Fronting with that + be
- Fool that I am, I nevertheless managed to get everything right.
(even though I'm a fool)
- Confident as she was, she soon came unstuck in the interview. (British English)
(even though she was confident)
NB. Causal meanings
- Late as I was, I decided to take a taxi.
(because I was late)
- Smart as she is, she passed the exam with flying colours.
(because she is smart)
- Fool that I am, I made a real mess of it.
(because I'm a fool)
- Confident as she was, she sailed through the interview.
(because she was confident)
7. Yes, But arguing - claim | concession | counter-argument.
- put forward a claim or argument
Dogs make the best pets for children
- concede there might be other arguments against your claim (= Yes)
Yes, cats are more independent and need less looking after, perhaps.
- return to your original claim, strengthening it (= But)
But dogs give children more sense of reponsibility.
- Yes - yes, it is true (that), admittedly, granted, of course, there is no doubt (that), true, to be sure
- But - but, however, nonetheless, even so, all the same, still
8. Bringing it all together
|Exercise 8a||Complete the sentences by entering ONE word into each gap.|
|1.||She decided to take the job, even the salary was less than she had hoped for.|
|2.||No what we talk about, she always disagrees with me.|
|3.||She loves long walks in the country. Her sister, in , prefers to spend her weekends visiting museums.|
|4.||I just couldn't keep up with them, hard I tried.|
|5.||It does sound rather a long way to go just for an ice-cream. On the other , you won't taste a better one.|
|6.||We still felt quite energetic, our long walk.|
|7.||I know she speaks English quite well. Even , it's a bit much expecting her to make a speech.|
|8.||Well I'm not going to his stupid party, you say!|
|9.||I'm not usually very partial to red wines, although I like Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.|
|10.||We're leaving in five minutes even he hasn't turned up by then.|
|11.||We didn't particularly want to go to the function but we did so all the .|
|12.||We took a taxi but we managed to arrive late for the concert.|
|13.||I'm afraid I have to go now, as I would like to help you pack.|
|14.||You well think that's the case, but I couldn't possibly comment.|
|15.||Tell them I'm out, it is.|
|Exercise 8b||Choose the word or expression that fits best.|
|1.||She's very friendly, a little shy.|
|albeit - no matter - despite|
|2.||He doesn't have a lot of experience but they decided to offer him the job .|
|albeit - although - nevertheless|
|3.||they've known each other since they were children, it's only recently that they've started going out together.|
|Nevertheless - Whereas - While|
|4.||I haven't bought the tickets yet, but I don't think there'll be a any problems, .|
|in contrast - although - though|
|5.||He earns quite a decent salary, his brother has to make do on very little.|
|whereas - in spite of - albeit|
|6.||He borrowed my bicycle I particularly told him not to.|
|when - albeit - however|
|7.||the number of red squirrels in Scotland is declining, the grey squirrel population continues to increase.|
|Whereas - However - No matter|
|8.||Funny it may seem, I've never seen Star Wars.|
|even though - though - although|
|9.||The houses next to the park are quite expensive. Those a street or two away, , are a bit cheaper.|
|however - nevertheless - even so|
|10.||The old house, somewhat delapidated, has a lot of charm.|
|if - as - when|
|11.||I've always wanted a Ferrari. , it would be a bit impractical, but think of how much fun you could have.|
|However - Still - True|
|12.||not having arrived at at a firm decision yet, we're increasingly inclined to accept their offer.|
|- While - Whereas - When|
Notes on while and whereas
Use and position of while-clauses
|contrast - 1st clause||3|
|contrast - 2nd clause||22|
|concession - 1st clause||24|
|concession - 2nd clause||0|
Use and position of whereas-clauses
Some examples of whereas-clauses from the media and the BNC
Where they express pure contrast
- The average London student pays £287 a week for essentials like accommodation, food, study materials and travel - whereas Leicester students pay just fraction of this weekly sum at £167.
(The Daily Telegraph)
- They (women) see it (visiting the doctor) as a question of maintenance, whereas men see it as a question of repair.
- Part of the problem, he said, was that the climate sceptic lobby employed communications professionals, whereas "scientists are just barely competent at communicating with the public and don't have the wherewithal to do it."
- The more prestigious (private schools) such as Eton, Harrow and Winchester can afford to charge annual fees in excess of £4,000 (more than $6,000 in 1983 terms), whereas some less prestigious day schools may charge less than £1,000 per year.
(British National Corpus - NB these figures are much higher today!)
- Whereas some Italian coaches are obsessed by formation, strategy and shape, the Real Madrid manager has a more relaxed approach that concentrates on maximising individual talent.
Where they suggest a strong element of concession
- Whereas most modern performance cars encourage aggression through their virulence, the Stag suppresses it while getting there just as quickly.
(British National Corpus)Here, the writer is not simply contrasting the (Triumph) Stag - a British sports car produced in the 1970s - with another sports car, but is suggesting that it was different from most other 'modern' sports cars. In this way the information about the Stag is slightly surprising or unexpected, so I think we can talk of concession here.
- Whereas the French Ministry of Culture alone has 7,000 officials, the entire European Commission has less than double (12,911) to deal with all policies.
(British National Corpus)In this example, the concession comes from the writer's implying that the European commission is surprisingly small when compared with national governments - the key word here is alone.
- Yet whereas US GDP stands roughly where it was just before the financial crisis broke, the UK's GDP is some 4pc below. Why the difference?
(The Guardian)I think there is concession here (strengthened by that opening 'yet') in that the writer seems rather surprised that the UK's GDP is so low compared with that of the US.
- Whereas only four per cent of people at any one time have major depression, around one third suffer symptoms of the minor variety.
(The Guardian)Considering how few people suffer from major depression, it is perhaps surprising (concession) that as many as a third suffer from minor depression.
- I think women in sport are perceived as being not very feminine, not very girly, whereas we can be.
(The Guardian)A rare example of a whereas-clause used for concession appearing in second position. The information in the whereas-clause is contrary to the general perception (although would fit here) - hence the concession.
Other (ambiguous) examples of whereas-clauses in first position
- But whereas Bristol's A&E (Accident and Emegency) departments are filling up by midnight with fight injuries, you rarely see as much as a scuffle in Bilbao.
Here, the writer is comparing alcohol use among young people in Southern European with that of the British, the main subject of his article. The information in the main clause contrasts with the general theme of his article - that (in Britain) alcohol and violence often go together.
- They ate dairy products, but whereas much of it in Jamaica was home-reared, ours comes, less healthily, from mass production.
The author (a British journalist of Jamaican descent) is comparing what Jamaican emmigrants ('they') ate back home in Jamaica with what they now eat in Britain. The information in the whereas-clause is rather positive, whereas that in the main clause is rather negative.
A note on the relative use of concession words and expressions
|in spite of||-||2708|
|all the same||-||1031|
|no matter how||-||1005|
|no matter what||-||559|
Answers and printing
Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary Usage Notes
Although, despite etc
While and whereas
Yes, But arguing
- Yes, But arguing - Minnesota and Wisconsin Tesol Journal
- Motivated Grammar - Is there any difference between in spite of and despite? A linguist's thoughts.
- Grammar Girl - while and although
At Google Books
- Oxford A-Z of Grammar, John Seely
- The Teacher's Grammar of English, Ron Cowan
- Active Grammar Level 3 , Mark Lloyd, Jeremy Day
- A Communicative Grammar of English, Geoffrey Leech, Jan Svartvik
- Linguistic Perspectives on English Grammar: A Guide for EFL Teachers, Martin J. Endley - even if / even though
- Garner's Modern American Usage - while