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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 23rd, 2013, 12:50 pm
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Default In spite of/Despite me telling her

Hi, the text book Im using to prepare my students for the FCE says that if the subject of the verbs in the two clauses is the same, the gerund can be used inmediately after "Despite/ In spite of" without a preceding noun or pronoun, and the example it gives is:
She paid for the meal despite me/my telling her not to.

I dont understand this rule as the subjects of the clauses are different (She / I)

Could anyone explain this rule to me, pls?

thanks
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 24th, 2013, 04:31 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: In spite of/Despite me telling her

I'll explain from the beginning, for the benefit of anyone who doesn't understand the rule at all. The answer to your specific query is at the end.

Despite/in spite of are prepositions. After prepositions you need to use some form of noun phrase : For example :
We went out for a walk in spite of the rain.
We arrived on time despite the heavy traffic.


A gerund is a "verbal noun", ie the form you use when you want a verb to take up the same syntactic position as a noun - for instance the subject. Compare...
Chocolate makes you fat.
Smoking is bad for you


We have said that prepositions must be followed by nouns and that the gerund is the form of the verb that can substitute syntactically for a noun phrase. So eg after the preposition for ...

Thank you for the present.
Thank you for helping us yesterday.

We've also said that in spite of / despite are prepositions. So :

We arrived on time despite the heavy traffic.
We arrived on time despite getting stuck in heavy traffic.


As you say, the subject of both verbs (the one in the main clause and the gerund) must be the same for this to happen - as in the example above :
We arrived on time. We got stuck in heavy traffic.

If, on the other hand, the subject of the two verbs is different, then the "new" subject must be inserted.

She paid for the meal. John told her not to.

She paid for the meal despite John telling her not to.


If the subject can be reduced to a pronoun then either the object or possessive pronoun can be used :

John said that she paid for the meal despite his telling her not to.
John said that she insisted on paying despite him telling her not to.


So in your example, this would become...

She paid for the meal despite me/my telling her not to.

And you are right. Grammatically, the pronoun can't be omitted here because of the change in subject. I don't know why the book says it can - it would result in a "dangling participle" clause. See this thread for more on those : I don't know what to title this one

There's a complication though, and I think this is what the book may have in mind. The construction with the preposition is rarely used - especially in a spoken context such as the one you quote. (It might be more likely in a formal, written text) We'd tend to avoid it by rephrasing :

She paid for the meal although I told her not to.
She paid for the meal despite the fact that I told her not to.


And very often, if we did use the gerund, we might omit the pronoun because it sounds so stilted. Not everything that is said is 100% grammatical - the spontaneity of the communicative situations mean that slips often occur.

However, accepting that everyday speech often contains grammatical slips and building it into a coursebook as a productive model are two different things. I personally wouldn't teach my learners to use this - and I'm sure it would be considered wrong in the FCE exam if they used it in writing. in spoken English, you probably wouldn't notice, as the meaning is clear. But even so, rephrasing with "although" etc would still sound more natural.
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Unread Jan 24th, 2013, 04:35 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: In spite of/Despite me telling her

PS. If you let me know what the book is (and the page number) and I can get hold of it, I'll check and see if i can throw any further light on why they've included it.
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Unread Jan 24th, 2013, 05:53 am
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Default Re: In spite of/Despite me telling her

Hi Susan, thanks for your quick reply. I think I know what the problem is. The book is "New Ready for FCE", Macmillan . The grammar is so briefly explained that sometimes can be a bit confusing.

This is what exactly says on page 212 (Contrasting ideas):

if the subject of the verbs in the two clauses is the same, the gerund can be used inmediately after "Despite/ In spite of" without a preceding noun or pronoun. Examples:

She played tennis despite feeling ill. (correct -we can apply this example to the rule)

She paid for the meal despite me/my telling her not to. (In my opinion this example doesnt apply to the rule above. This example should be in another bullet explaining that despite/in spite of can be followed by an object pronoun (me) or a possessive adjective (my) + V.ing)

What do you think?
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Unread Jan 24th, 2013, 06:00 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: In spite of/Despite me telling her

Yes - I think the book was badly edited and they've missed out a part of the explanation, which should have read much as I said above :

If, on the other hand, the subject of the two verbs is different, then the "new" subject must be inserted.

She paid for the meal. John told her not to.
She paid for the meal despite John telling her not to.

If the subject can be reduced to a pronoun then either the object or possessive pronoun can be used :

John said that she paid for the meal despite his telling her not to.
John said that she insisted on paying despite him telling her not to.

So in your example, this would become...

She paid for the meal despite me/my telling her not to.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 24th, 2013, 06:15 am
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Default Re: In spite of/Despite me telling her

thanks for the explanation.
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Unread Feb 8th, 2013, 03:19 pm
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Default Re: In spite of/Despite me telling her

This short video clip will help you to understand the difference between "although/even though, despite/in spite of, and however"

Conjunctions of contrast - YouTube

I hope this helps!

- Teacher Diane
Teacher Diane | English Skype Tutor
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Unread Aug 1st, 2013, 06:36 am
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Default Re: In spite of/Despite me telling her

"Despite" means "even though," "notwithstanding," or "regardless of." It's the opposite of "because of/due to," and can be used with a noun or gerund.

She had difficulty communicating in French despite all her years of study.
We lost the game, despite the fact that we practiced all week.
Despite not having an umbrella, I walked home in the rain.
"In spite of" means exactly the same thing and is used exactly the same way as "despite."

She had difficulty communicating in French in spite of all her years of study.
We lost the game, in spite of the fact that we practiced all week.
In spite of not having an umbrella, I walked home in the rain.

ESL - English-Skype-Lesson
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Unread Oct 23rd, 2013, 11:00 am
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Default Re: In spite of/Despite me telling her

I totally agree with you when you speak against "building common but erroneous grammatical structures into a coursebook as a productive model", which is what more and more coursebooks do! To put us in touch with real English, they say, but more probably, because real English comes in so many different guises that it enables them to expand learning material for ever, and so their sales! Compactness is no longer the order of the day. Pity!
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Unread Oct 23rd, 2013, 11:03 am
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Default Re: In spite of/Despite me telling her

Your explanation is as clear as clear can be!
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