Using Accept vs Except

Instructor: David Boyles

David has a Master's in English literature. He has taught college English for 5+ years.

'Accept' and 'except' are homonyms that sound alike, but mean very different things, as well as do different jobs in a sentence. 'Accept' is a verb while 'except' can be a verb or preposition.

Accept and Except

In speech, it can be almost impossible to tell the difference between the words 'except' and 'accept.' That's because they are homonyms, or words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. In spoken conversation, then, a listener has to pay attention to how the word is being used to determine which one the speaker is using.

In reading and writing, it can be a little easier to tell them apart since they are spelled differently, but they can still be confusing. But knowing the difference is important. In addition to having different meanings, the words also do different jobs in a sentence. These jobs are known as parts of speech, and every word functions as at least one part of speech, and some as more than one. For instance, 'accept' is a verb, while 'except' can be a verb or preposition.

Accept It!

Verbs are the part of speech that show action and movement. 'Accept' describes the action of receiving or consenting to something, as in these examples:

  • Please accept my apology for saying those mean things about you.
  • I can't accept that gift because it cost way too much.
  • I need to be home by noon to accept the delivery from the UPS man.

It also has a related meaning of believing or coming to recognize something as correct:

  • You need to accept that I am your boss, and listen to me.
  • I refuse to accept that you known nothing about the thefts happening in the office.
  • I have accepted that we will never agree on this.

Except For Me!

'Except' can also function as a verb, but it has a very different meaning than 'accept.' It means to skip over exclude:

  • I hate everyone at this party, present company excepted.
  • The US and Britain were excepted from certain provisions of the treaty that the other countries must follow.

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