Using 'A Pesar De'

Phrase Is Common Way of Saying 'In Spite Of'

skiing in Spain for lesson on the Spanish phrase
Me gusta el esquiar a pesar de que el equipo de esquí es caro. (I like skiing even though ski gear is expensive. The photo was taken at Candanchú in Spain's Aragón Valley.). Photo by Mikel Ortega; licensed via Creative Commons.

A pesar de is one of the idioms that Spanish uses the most often to convey the idea of "in spite of" or "despite." A related phrase, a pesar de que, is often translated as "even though" or "even if."

Grammatically, these phrases are known as terms of concession, meaning that they are used to diminish the importance of what follows.

Pesar is the verb for "to weigh," but that isn't important here because the phrases have meanings of their own.

The difference between a pesar de and a pesar de que is that the former acts like a preposition in that it is followed by an object such as a noun or pronoun, while the latter is followed by a clause (a subject followed by a verb).

For example, see how a pesar de is followed by an object in these sentences:

  • El matrimonio es válido a pesar del error ortógrafico. (The marriage is valid despite the spelling mistake.)
  • A pesar de sus problemas, es fácil hablar con él. (In spite of his problems, it's easy to talk to him.)
  • A pesar de no estudiar, he aprobado el curso. (In spite of not studying, I have passed the course. Note that although estudiar is a verb, it can be an object because it is an infinitive functioning as a noun.)
  • Su sinceridad y su fortaleza, a pesar de sus dificultades, fueron una gran lección para mí. Her sincerity and her strength of character, despite her difficulties, were a great lesson for me.

    But a pesar de que is followed by a noun (or pronoun) with an accompanying verb. That verb should be in the subjunctive mood if the action of the sentence is hypothetical or has yet to occur.

    • Me gusta el esquiar a pesar de que el equipo de esquí es caro. (I like skiing even though ski gear is expensive.)
    • Fuimos a la playa a pesar de que hacía viento. (We went to the beach even though it was windy. Note that the subject of hacía is implied rather than specified.)
    • Casandra preferiría vivir con su hermano a pesar de que él sea pobre. (Casandra would prefer to live with her brother even if he is poor. Note that the subjunctive is used because of the hypothetical nature of the sentence.)
    • No puedo ganar dinero a pesar de que vaya a cumplir 25 años en octubre. (He can't earn money even though he is going to be 25 years old in October. Note that the subjunctive of ir is used because because it refers to a future event.)

    Common Phrases Using 'A Pesar De'

    Two everyday phrases including a pesar de are shown in boldface in these sample sentences:

    • A pesar de los pesares, la tormenta ya no es una amenaza. (In spite of everything, the storm still isn't a threat.)
    • A pesar de todo seguimos adelante. (Despite everything, we're continuing forward.)