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Accept vs. Except: When to Use Which?

  • Except means with the exception of something or excluding (you can use the “ex” of except to help you remember that it means to exclude
  • Accept means to receive something being offered or to agree with something or someone.

If you are having difficulties remembering when you should use except and when you should use accept, learn how these two similar-sounding words function and how they differ.  

Using Accept:

The word accept is a verb. Simply put, it means to take something that is being offered or to agree with someone or with something. Here is a pair of examples of the word accept being used both correctly and incorrectly:

Correct: Sam gladly accepted the promotion offered to him by his employer.

Incorrect: Mary loves all nuts accept walnuts. 

Using Except

We often come across the word except being used as a preposition or a conjunction. When used as a preposition, except means “but.” When used as a conjunction, except often precedes the words “that,” to mean “only” or “with the exception of.” For example:

They loved the venue, except that it didn’t offer a mountain view as they had hoped. 

Here are a few more examples of both correct and incorrect use:

Correct: All the cars on the lot except ours were clean.

Incorrect: She excepted his invitation. 

Remembering the Difference:

A helpful trick is to use the “ex” at the beginning of except to recall the word exclude. So, when faced with accept vs. except, just remember – ex -exclude-except.  

Here are some further examples from literature:

“I can resist anything except temptation.” – Oscar Wilde

“Bagration replied that he was not authorized either to accept or refuse a truce and sent his adjutant to Kutuzov to report the offer he had received.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace 

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By Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday holds degrees in English education and creative writing. As an educator, Michael specializes in corporate training having worked with IBM, Philip Morris International, and the Danone food company in Paris. He is a published author and is deeply passionate about the written word.

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