Firstly, the word 'despite' has the same meaning as 'in spite of'. Both words are used for contrast.
Here is a common sentence mistake made by students:
Despite he was hungry, John did not eat. (Incorrect)
Why is this incorrect? Because the words despite and in spite of are prepositions, not subordinating conjunctions. This means that after these words, you only need a noun. You cannot put a clause that has a subject and a verb.
Usage #1: Despite / In spite of + noun , main clause
Despite his hunger, John did not eat. (Correct = ‘hunger’ is a noun)
If you want to use a subject (“he”) and a verb (“was”), then use a subordinating conjunction such as although/though/even though/while. These words are followed by clauses.
Although he was hungry, John did not eat. (Correct)
Even though she had a broken arm, she played the game. (Correct)
Though the water was cold, we enjoyed swimming. (Correct)
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