Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Contrast – Diagnose Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises
A DIAGNOSTIC TEST: Contrast
Fourteen of these sentences contain a mistake. Tick (✓) the correct sentences, then correct the mistakes. (Some of the mistakes are in word order and level of formality.)
We didn’t have a lot of success with the garden, despite we worked hard on it.
……….We didn’t have a lot of success with the garden, although we worked hard on it………
- I’m Gemini even though my mother is Capricorn
- My partner enjoys adventure holidays, whereas I prefer to laze on a beach.
- But they’d travelled round the world, they had little experience of their own country.
- Although the watch looked just like a Rolex, it had cost only $50 in a market in Hong Kong
- The girl was released from prison, she had served although only a fraction of her sentence
- Even although there was a Force 9 gale, the ship remained stable.
- Visitors to tropical resorts still stay out in the sun too long, even they have had plenty of warning about the dangers of the sun’s rays.
- These exclusive villas are only a five-minute walk from the busy centre of the resort. They are a haven of peace and tranquillity yet.
- Her face, although deathly pale, was a stern as ever.
- Ideal the house may appear at first sight, be sure to have a full structural survey.
- In spite of he had a full course of driving lessons, he failed the test four times.
- Despite she was a woman, Marie Curie made a successful career for herself in a male-dominated world.
- Despite having to do it in the dark, we managed to pitch the tent without problems.
- Although the fact that the machine was under guarantee, the company refused to replace it.
- We had a really horrible flight back – it was terrifying. The plane was all over the place and people were throwing up everywhere and screaming. Nonetheless, we got back safely.
- However a dog may be a good companion for the elderly, the need to take it for walks may be a disadvantage.
- Australian wines have long impressed European wine lovers. Australian, by contrast, champagne is a relative newcomer.
- Most people appreciate the damage being done to the environment by cars. They won’t stop using their own vehicles, however.
- The new designs are not as innovative as the competition. They will certainly be popular as they are realistically priced, still.
- The plumber charged $100 for an hour’s work. He did a good job, mind you.
B GRAMMAR EXPLANATION: Contrast
English can express contrasts: with conjunctions, adverbs and prepositions. Knowing exactly how to use each type of contrast is one of the more advanced points of English. This unit looks at the most common ways of contrasting information.
- CONJUNCTIONS OF CONTRAST
1A. Expressing difference
A contrast between two clauses can be one simply of difference between the ideas expressed in them. The most common way of expressing a simple difference in English is with but:
Life expectancy in Japan is now over 80 but it is several years lower in the UK.
Other conjunctions which express simple differences are while, whereas and whilst. While is more informal than whereas; whilst is very formal:
Reds and yellows are warm colours, whereas blues and greens are cool.
While only 84 people died on the railways last year, more than 5.000 died on the roads.
We can put a clause starting with while, whilst or whereas either before or after the main clause, but a clause starting with but has to come second:
I’ve got two sisters, while my best friend has got two brothers.
While I’ve got two sisters, my best friend has got two brothers.
X But I’ve got two sisters, my best friend has got two brothers.
✓ My best friend has got two brothers but I’ve got two sisters.
The clause introduced by the conjunction is usually the one which carries more emphasis or introduces something new to the discourse.
Note: We always separate clauses with while, whereas and whilst with a comma. This is not usually necessary when we use but.
1B. Expressing opposition or surprise
There is another type of contrast in English, where the idea of one clause is in some way opposing the idea of the other, and which often expresses an element of surprise. For example, we may feel that it is surprising to pay a lot of money for a meal in a restaurant and to find that the food is awful, or to fail an exam after studying hard:
Although we paid an enormous amount of money for the meal, the food was terribly disappointing.
Derek failed the exam but he had studied really hard for it.
Derek failed the exam, although he had studied really hard for it.
We use the conjunctions but, (al)though and even though to introduce the fact or idea in opposition to information in the main clause.
Note that the subordinate clause can precede the main clause:
Although he had studied really hard for the exam. Derek failed it.
Note: Remember that but does not introduce a subordinate clause and that a clause starting with but cannot precede the other clause in the sentence:
X But he had studied really hard for the exam. Derek failed it.
It is often possible to start either clause in a sentence with a conjunction, depending on which clause has the information we consider ‘surprising’ and which we want to focus on. Compare these examples:
Little is known about the artist’s early life although a lot has been found out about his later life.
A lot has been found out about the artist’s later life, although little is known about his early life
In the first example, the writer probably feels that it is surprising that a lot is known about the artist’s later life when little is known about his early life, but in the second, it is the lack of knowledge about the artist’s early life which is surprising.
Though is a more informal alternative to although:
I enjoyed the exhibition, though I thought it was rather badly organised.
Even though adds emphasis to the subordinate clause:
Psychosis is also part of this debate, even though problems arising from it affect a relatively small number of people.
Note: Do not use even although or even by itself:
X She loves him, even although he is violent.
X She loves him, even he is violent.
✓ She loves him, even though he is violent.
Note: Do not confuse even though and even if:
I’m going to apply for the job, even though it pays very little. (fact)
I’m going to apply for the job. even if it pays very little. (I don’t know what it pays.)
A more formal conjunction of contrast is yet.
These exclusive villas are only a five-minute walk from the busy centre of the resort, yet they are a haven of peace and tranquillity.
1C. Other patterns with although, even though and though
We can use these conjunctions with an adjective instead of a clause:
The necklace, even though (it was) staggeringly expensive, would match the dress perfectly.
Though exhausted after the drive home, Shelley cooked a meal for them all.
Her face, although deathly pale, was as stern as ever.
We can use though after an adjective, with verbs such as be, look, seem:
Beautiful though she is, you must be sure that you love her for herself.
Compare this with the use of although as a conjunction:
Although she is beautiful, you must be sure that you love her for herself.
We can use though at the end of a sentence to make a contrast with the sentence that precedes it
- PREPOSITIONS OF CONTRAST
We can use the prepositions despite and in spite of to express contrast. They are more formal than (al)though:
Despite the depressed gold price, mine production rose in most areas last year.
As these are prepositions, they do not introduce clauses:
X In spite of she saw me in the car, she didn’t wave or say hello.
✓Although she saw me in the car, she didn’t wave or say hello.
X Despite the plane left an hour late, we arrived at our destination on time.
✓Though the plane left an hour late, we arrived at our destination on time.
These prepositions can be followed by a noun or an -ing form:
Despite often offering poor conditions and basic salaries, charities rarely have problems in recruiting staff.
To introduce a clause with despite or in spite of, we have to add the fact that:
In spite of the fact that the final rehearsal had gone so badly, the first night was a great success.
- ADVERBS OF CONTRAST
We can use sentence adverbials, e.g. however, nevertheless, still, on the other hand, on the contrary, to make a contrast between sentences, but mainly in more formal speech and writing:
A dog may be a good companion for the elderly. However, the need to take it for walks may be a disadvantage.
Nevertheless/ nonetheless is more formal than however.
The new version of Windows is not problem-free. Nevertheless, it is still an improvement on the previous one.
We use commas to separate these adverbials from the sentence.
We use even so in the same way, often to express a particularly surprising contrast:
The last attempt to swim the Channel ended in disaster. Even so, more swimmers than ever are training to achieve this difficult feat.
More informal adverbs of concession are still, all the same and mind you:
Our latest designs are not really as innovative as the competition. Still, they will certainly be popular, as they are realistically priced.
I know it’s not late. I have to go, all the same.
The new programme about dinosaurs is a bit far-fetched Mind you, it’s a lot more interesting than most of the other programmes on TV right now.
All of the adverbs of contrast can be placed at the beginning of the contrasting sentence:
One way of selecting candidates is a written editorial test. On the other hand, an informal interview can often be more informative.
We can also put them after the subject or verb of the contrasting sentence:
Little is known about Shakespeare’s early life in Stratford. His years in London, however, are well documented./ … are, however, well documented.
The adverb though can be put at the end of the contrasting sentence:
We haven’t had a lot of success with the garden this year. The weather was much hotter than usual, though.
Nevertheless and nonetheless are not commonly used at the end of a sentence; we tend to use them at the beginning of the sentence. But we often use even so at the end of a sentence. Look at these examples:
Last year the government turned away more asylum seekers than ever before.
=> Nonetheless, the public considers that too many are allowed to stay.
=> The public, however, considers that too many are allowed to stay.
=> The public considers that too many are allowed to stay, even so.
The informal adverb still can appear at the beginning of the sentence, but not the end, and all the same and mind you are common at both the beginning and the end:
I know it’s far too expensive for someone on my income.
=> Still, it’s worth it!
=> All the same, it’s worth it!
=> It’s worth it, all the same!
=> Mind you. It’s worth it!
=> It’s worth it, mind you!
C PRACTICE EXERCISE
Combine each sentence in A with a suitable contrasting sentence from B, using the conjunction given in brackets.
0 Cliff Richard’s Christmas single went straight to the top of the charts. …….c……
1 Many people believe that capital punishment is a deterrent to serious crime.
2 We usually consider it healthy to eat lots of fruit.
3 I enjoy having people to stay.
4 The main medium of communication on the Internet is English.
5 lain Banks’s early novels were considered quite strange.
6 I tend to drink more white wine.
7 Global warming is often considered the main factor in current climate fluctuations.
a Many web sites now operate in other languages. (although)
b Too much can produce an excess of acid in the stomach. (but)
c He is reviled by much of the pop music establishment. (even though)
d Climate change has long been a feature of the Earth’s development. (yet)
e It actually makes little difference to the crime rate. (on the contrary)
f My husband prefers red. (whereas)
g I always appreciate the peace when they have gone. (though)
h His later books are more mainstream and accessible. (while)
0 … Cliff Richard’s Christmas single went straight to the top of the charts, even though he is reviled by much of the pop music establishment……….
For each of the sentences below, write a new sentence as similar as possible in meaning to the original sentence, but using the word given.
0 Malcolm’s teeth were bothering him again, even though he had recently visited the dentist.
despite …… Malcolm’s teeth were bothering him again, despite the fact that he had recently visited the dentist…….
- Very little of the remaining stock sold, despite the low prices in the sale.
- The ailing magazine tried introducing several new features. Nevertheless, circulation continued to drop.
- Although this may seem difficult now, you’ll soon wonder why it caused so many problems.
- In spite of her insistence that all was well, I knew that something was wrong.
- The Scots won the battle, even though they had a far smaller force.
- Despite the fact that the critics hated it, Archer’s latest book was well received by the public.
Six of these sentences contain a mistake in word order or formality. Tick (✓) the two correct sentences and correct the mistakes in the others.
- I think that I did quite well in the computing exam. It was more difficult than though I expected.
- We were expecting a basic but pleasant apartment. On the contrary, what we got was little more than a hovel.
- Strictly no pets are allowed in the hotel rooms. Guide dogs for the blind may be permitted with prior permission from the management, mind you.
- Julian’s just had a shocking cold. It didn’t last long, still.
- Office supplies may be ordered as necessary. However, all orders must be copied to the Accounts Department.
- I know you’d like us to be godparents to little Emily. We’d rather all the same not.
- That new kid at the nursery is a right little pain. He really gets on your nerves. Nevertheless, we’ve got to do our best by him.
- Writing more than the required number of words will not attract a higher mark. You may be penalised for failing to follow on the other hand the rules.
Which of the sentences in these pairs have different meanings? Put a tick (✓) in the correct box. The exercise begins with an example (0).
A In spite of the fact that this computer costs less, it’s as good as the other one.
B Despite its lower price, this computer is as good as the other one.
same ✓ different □
A Despite the awful weather, the parade was a success.
B Although the weather was awful, the parade was a success,
same □ different □
A Brilliant as he is, he can’t find a suitable job.
B Though he is brilliant, he can’t find a suitable job.
same □ different □
A Even though I went to the party, I didn’t see her.
B Even if I went to the party, I wouldn’t see her.
same □ different □
A The new museum is extremely popular. It hasn’t made any money yet.
B The new museum is extremely popular, yet it hasn’t made any money.
same □ different □
A This ice cream is very sweet and rich, though it’s not very fattening.
B This ice cream is very sweet and rich. It’s not very fattening, though.
same □ different □
A The waiters in this restaurant are notoriously rude. However, customers keep coming back.
B The waiters in this restaurant are notoriously rude. Even so, customers keep coming back.
same □ different □
A Even as we complained, the noise continued.
B Even though we complained, the noise continued.
same □ different □
A We were at the Norfolk Hotel, while the rest of the group was at the Grange.
B While we were staying at the Norfolk Hotel the rest of the group moved to the Grange.
same □ different □
A Though delighted at her sister’s success, Vicky couldn’t help feeling somewhat envious.
B Despite her delight at her sister’s success, Vicky couldn’t help feeling somewhat envious.
same □ different □
A Men usually have good spatial awareness, whereas women’s linguistic skills are often better.
B Whereas men usually have good spatial awareness, women’s linguistic skills are often better.
same □ different □
A ‘Mary threatened to leave last night. She’s still here now.’
B ’Mary threatened to leave last night. Still, she’s here now.’
same □ different □
A Chicken pox is much milder in children than in adults. It’s still not pleasant, mind you.
B Chicken pox is much milder in children than in adults. All the same, it’s still not pleasant.
same □ different □
Complete each gap in the text with a conjunction or preposition from the box.
|Although but despite Despite even though however However Nevertheless On the contrary though whereas While Yet|
The Elgin Marbles
The Elgin Marbles are statues which date back to the 5th century BC. (0)…Although….they were created in Greece and were located there until the late 18th century, they are now exhibited in the British Museum, London.
The statues used to be in Athens (1)………they were bought in 1799 by the Englishman Lord Elgin, who wanted to bring them back to Britain as part of his personal art collection. (2)…………on the sea voyage back to England, the ship carrying them was sunk and the ‘Marbles’ were temporarily lost. It would be an incredibly expensive operation to recover them.
(3)………. Elgin did so, and (4)…………. he was a very rich man, he placed himself in enormous debt. (5) …….. his own desires, he had to sell the Marbles to the British Government to recover his losses and they were housed in the British Museum, where they have remained ever since.
In recent times, (6)……., the statues have become the subject of debate between Britain and Greece and, indeed, among British historians and archaeologists. (7)……… the Greek authorities have requested the return of the Marbles on many occasions, the request has always been refused. There are arguments on both sides. Some people believe that it would be foolish to return them, valid (8)……….. the Greek request may be, because of the pollution that is affecting the Parthenon and the possibility of earthquakes in Greece. Restored to the Parthenon, the Marbles could be exposed to damage, (9)………….. they are safe in the British Museum.
Of course, there are equally compelling arguments for their return, especially on the moral level. It cannot be denied, (10)………. the material safety the statues enjoy in Britain, that they are part of the Greek heritage. Many people also refute the argument that Athens would not be a safe place for them. (11)……….. , they claim that if the statues were returned to Greece, a new state-of-the-art building would be constructed to house them, where they would be both safe and in their rightful environment. Furthermore, the British authorities have long used the argument that works of art should not be subject to ‘ownership’, but should be kept where they are accessible to most people. (12)………. in the past they have returned a number of cultural artefacts from other civilisations to their origins.
The argument continues, and is likely to do so for some time in the future.
D ANSWER KEY FOR DIAGNOSTIC TEST
- even-though => but
- But they’d travelled-round-the world, they had => They’d travelled round the world but they had/ Although they’d travelled around the world, they had
- she had served although => although she had served
- Even although => Even though
- even they have had => even though they have had
- They are a haven of peace and tranquillity => Yet, they are a haven of peace and tranquillity
- Ideal the house may appear => Ideal though the house may appear
- In spite of he had => In spite of the fact that he had/ In spite of having/Although he had
- Despite-she was a women => Despite the fact that she was a woman/Despite being a woman/Although she was a woman
- Although-the fact that the machine => Although the machine/ Despite/ In spite of the fact that the machine
- Nonetheless => Mind you/Still/ All the same
- However a dog may be-a good companion for the elderly, the need to take it for walks => A dog may be a good companion for the elderly. However, the need to take it for walks
- Australian, by contrast, champagne => Australian champagne, by contrast/ By contrast, Australian champagne
- They will certainly be popular as they are realistically priced, still => Still, they will certainly be popular as they are realistically priced.
E ANSWER KEY FOR PRACTICE EXERCISE
1 e Many people believe that capital punishment is a deterrent to serious crime. On the contrary, it actually makes little difference to the crime rate.
2 b We usually consider it healthy to eat lots of fruit but too much can produce an excess of acid in the stomach.
3 g I enjoy having people to stay, though I always appreciate the peace when they have gone./ I always appreciate the peace when they have gone, though.
4 a The main medium of communication on the Internet is English, although many web sites now operate in other languages.
5 h lain Banks’s early novels were considered quite strange, while his later books are more mainstream and accessible.
6 f I tend to drink more white wine, whereas my husband prefers red.
7 d Global warming is often considered the main factor in current climate fluctuations. Yet climate change has long been a feature of the Earth’s development.
1 Very little of the remaining stock sold, even though the prices in the sale were very low.
2 Although the ailing magazine tried introducing several new features, circulation continued to drop.
3 Difficult though this may seem now. you’ll soon wonder why it caused so many problems.
4 In spite of the fact that she insisted (that) all was well. I knew that something was wrong.
5 The Scots won the battle, despite their smaller force./despite having a far smaller force.
6 Despite being hated by the critics, Archer’s latest book was well received by the public.
1 than though I expected => than I expected, though
3 mind you => however/on the other hand
4 It didn’t last long, still => Still, it didn’t last long.
6 We’d rather all the same not. => We’d rather not. all the same./ All the same, we’d rather not.
7 Nevertheless => Still/ All the same/Mind you
8 You may-be penalised for failing to follow on the other hand the rules. => On the other hand, you may …/You may, on the other hand be penalised, on the other hand, for…/… for failing to follow the rules, on the other hand.
1 same 2 same 3 different
4 different 5 same 6 same
7 different 8 different 9 same
10 same 11 different 12 same
4 even though
11 On the contrary
Latest posts by IELTS Editor (see all)
- All Useful IELTS Writing Lessons & Websites - February 27, 2019
- Improve Your Vocabulary in IELTS Speaking & Writing – Key Word: Thing - April 1, 2018
- Boost Your Lexical Resource – Key Word: Rule - March 26, 2018
Main IELTS Pages:
This website is to develop your IELTS skills with tips, model answers, lessons, free books, and more. Each section (Listening, Speaking, Writing, Reading) has a complete collection of lessons to help you improve your IELTS skills.
Subscribe for free IELTS lessons/Books/Tips/Sample Answers/Advice from our IELTS experts. We help millions of IELTS learners maximize their IELTS scores!