Posted by: Jack Henry | February 23, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Accept and Except

Dear Editrix,

Would you mind doing accept and except sometime?

Question from the Carolinas

Why, of course, I would love to cover accept and except! Let’s get to it right away.

Accept and except are frequently confused because they are homophones (words that sound alike). Homophones tend to be confusing to both native English speakers and people with English as a second language. First, we’ll look at accept because that is the easy one.

Accept is a verb that means to agree, to believe, or to receive something. Here are a few examples:

  • Rico accepted the terms of the contract, even though he thought he could get a better deal elsewhere. (In this case, accept means “agree to.”)
  • When Kelsie was young, she accepted her brother’s story there were fairies in the family strawberry patch. (In this case, accept means “to believe.”)
  • As a graduation gift, Lemuel accepted a golden watch from his grandfather. (In this case, accept means “to receive.”)

Except is a bit trickier because it can be used as a verb, a conjunction, or a preposition. On the plus side, except only has one meaning: to exclude something.

  • Zeb and Petronia have a secret hiding place; they haven’t told anyone about it except Zeb’s mother. (Preposition)
  • Paul knows nothing about his new OKCupid date except that he is tall, dark, and handsome. (Conjunction, usually use with that, when, or if.)
  • My dog Bella is very even-tempered, except when Harvey tries to steal her treats. (Conjunction, usually use with that, when, or if.)
  • The lawyer excepted against potential witnesses 14, 18, and 21. (Verb, rarer use than as a preposition or conjunction.) suggests that you can simplify the two words by remembering this:

  • Accept means to agree or to receive something offered.
  • Except means excluding or with the exception of.

I hope this helps!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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