Usage of "in spite of"



Is his required while using in spite?

Is it

In spite of his being young, he got the job.


In spite of being young, he got the job.


Posted 2017-03-09T15:49:38.337

Reputation: 41


Related: “I'm used to him being away ” or “I'm used to his being away”. You can have *his, him* or nothing at all between *in spite of / despite* and the "noun" that follows - they're all equally valid, and in practice mean the same. But most native speakers would go for nothing, if only because it's simpler.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2017-03-09T16:11:11.023



In spite of his being young, he got the job.

In spite of being young, he got the job.

Both the sentences are grammatical, without any difference in meaning.

Grammatically, you usually drop the possessive pronoun after the phrase "in spite of" when it's followed by "be" and the same subject is in the main clause. On the contrary, you cannot drop it, for example:

In spite of his being young, we gave him the job.

You can also rephrase the sentence presented by the OP as follows:

In spite of the fact that he was young, he got the job.


Posted 2017-03-09T15:49:38.337

Reputation: 26 261

On the other hand, I rarely find a sentence containing the fact that which cannot be made shorter and better; “in spite of the fact that” → “although”, or “the fact that he was young” → “his youth”. – Anton Sherwood – 2020-05-02T05:56:59.747


"In spite of" is like isolating something good or productive that may come out of a negative situation; with some contrasting or antagonistic factor that would hinder the latter.

It's a dependent prepositional phrase that mainly occurs at the beginning of a sentence.

e.g." In spite of the fact that the questions were tricky, Matthew scored high on the reading portion of the ACT."

Eric Beck

Posted 2017-03-09T15:49:38.337

Reputation: 1

I realize you're new so may I offer a tip? You commented on "in spite of," but the question asks whether the word "his" should be used in conjunction with that phrase. An example is provided. Can you advise on that? On Stack Exchange, an answer is considered useful to the degree in which it answers the question that was asked. – Sarah Bowman – 2020-04-09T03:14:37.477


The latter works, but I think the classic nominalization of to be young is young age, hence In spite of his young age.

Also, you probably mean despite or regardless, because in spite of means aversion.


"his being young" seems almost wrong. "in spite of him" can be extended to "in spite of him being", where being is the participle forming a noun phrase. "his being young" is widely spoken though, I guess. (Edit: correction and another)

Hector von

Posted 2017-03-09T15:49:38.337

Reputation: 740

No - *being young* is simply a gerund noun phrase, so there's no reason to suggest *young age* as a more "nouny" target for the possessive determiner *his*. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2017-03-09T16:05:07.283

@FumbleFingers: Exactly, it's a noun phrase, whereas age is simply a noun. The gerund is not a proper noun, it's still considered essentially a verb, although nominalized. Edit: Compare talk and talking. – Hector von – 2017-03-09T16:13:38.650

A gerund is a noun (admittedly, not a "proper noun" in the specialised technical sense). There's nothing wrong with His talking is distracting me, where it's definitely a straightforward gerund. And although I don't think that *Him talking is distracting me* is a gerund form, it's also perfectly valid.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2017-03-09T16:32:57.637

Talking is not straightforward, because ... well, actually I'm just nitpicking. You wouldn't say you listened to a nice talking, but that's obviously idiomatic. I think this relates to objective (He) vs subjective (the perception of talk). Anyway, him talking distracts should be he talking distracts, which admittedly sounds contrived - I didn't quite follow my first link yet. – Hector von – 2017-03-09T17:29:09.860

You definitely need to dig into this a bit deeper than can be addressed in comments here. Your point about *him talking distracts should be he talking distracts* is completely wrong (I'm pretty sure there are no contexts where your alternative could even be considered grammatical, let alone "idiomatic"). But as regards the matter of whether a gerund is a verb or a noun, different people have different (sometimes, strongly-held) opinions. Me, I don't care too much about it - all that really matters is that nns should learn how native speakers actually speak, not the terminology. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2017-03-09T17:37:55.193

You being ignorant not only distract me but allege I was wrong. You, writing, distract. Where's the mistake? – Hector von – 2017-03-09T23:24:17.543

Syntactically, you must use a tensed verb for *distracts* or *distracted*, and semantically, the verb *allege* is nonsensical in this context, regardless of how it's inflected (cf colorless green ideas sleep furiously). But it's entirely a stylistic choice whether to start with a simple pronoun (him) or a possessive (his). It's even okay with a genitive attached to a proper noun: *John's being ignorant not only distracted me but irritated my friends*. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2017-03-10T00:32:42.313

Don't you see that John's being is immediately fused to just John, no matter what follows? – Hector von – 2017-03-10T01:05:28.410

I no longer understand this thread. I thought my role here was that of a native speaker trying to explain some relatively subtle points about usage to a (relatively competent) non-native speaker. But now you seem to be implying *I* don't know my own language! What I see is that you've proposed several invalid constructions, and I've tried to point out where you're going wrong. Semantically, it doesn't make any difference whether we're annoyed by *John being stupid*, or by *John's being stupid* - the stupidity (or the quality of being stupid) is associated with John either way. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2017-03-10T13:41:45.637

Let us continue this discussion in chat.

– Hector von – 2017-03-10T16:30:55.913