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Last updated at 16:55 BST, Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Notwithstanding

Shanghai at night

Notwithstanding the global financial crisis, China's economy continues to grow

A question from Naresh in India:
How and where can the word 'Notwithstanding' be used in sentences?

Gareth Rees answers:

Click below to hear the answer:

Hello Naresh. It is good to hear from you and to be asked about the word 'notwithstanding', which, although a little unusual because it is quite formal, is a very useful word.

Notwithstanding is a synonym of despite or in spite of something, and so we use it to indicate an aspect of contrast.

Do you know how we use despite and in spite of? We use them in sentences which have two parts, or clauses, to indicate a particular relationship between the two clauses. We use them to show that our main clause, or statement, is surprising or unlikely, because of the information in the 'despite' clause. Look at this example:

  • Despite the bad weather, we had a picnic at the beach.

Having the picnic was surprising, because the weather was bad. Here is another example:

  • In spite of the fact that he was very unwell, David came first in the Maths exam.

In both of these examples, we could use notwithstanding:

  • Notwithstanding the bad weather, we had a picnic at the beach.
  • Notwithstanding the fact that he was very unwell, David came first in the Maths exam.

Importantly, notice that we use a noun phrase after notwithstanding. We also generally start the sentence with the notwithstanding clause, and remember that I said that this is a formal word, so better examples might be as follows:

  • Notwithstanding the global financial crisis, China's economy continues to grow at an impressive rate.
  • Notwithstanding his youth, Picasso's early pictures were technically accomplished and mature in perspective.

Once again Naresh, thank you for your question. Notwithstanding the brevity of my answer, it is to be hoped that your understanding is clearer now.

About Gareth Rees

Gareth Rees

Gareth Rees has a BA (hons) in History and Philosophy of Science, CTEFLA, and DELTA. He has taught EFL, EAP and Business English in China, Spain and England, and he is the co-author of the Language Leader Elementary and Pre-Intermediate English language course books (Pearson Longman). He currently teaches English in the Language Centre at the University of the Arts, London.

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