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My teacher tells me that if I can't change a clause into a noun phrase, I can use the phrase 'despite the fact that' and then write the whole clause, because it's always right. Is it true?

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Yes. "Despite the fact that" is a "get-out clause" if you find "despite" tricky to use. An -ing form of a verb is required after "despite".

Consider converting:

Estate agents are very unpopular but their work is important.

To use "despite" instead of "but"

Estate agents are very unpopular despite their work being important.

This is not an easy construction. Therefore we can simplify by using "despite the fact that" and maintaining our original clause.

Estate agents are very unpopular despite the fact that their work is important.

Note that this is also true in "in spite of" versus "in spite of the fact that".

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