Thursday, June 27, 2013

Get It Right: Accept And Except

Several months ago, we looked at the difference between the words affect and effect and how to properly use them. Today we've got another similar-sounding pair for you. They differ considerably in their definitions, so after you've read this post and learned them you should have no excuses for incorrect usage!


First of all, it is important to know that accept is always a verb. It has a few definitions, but it should help you to remember that they all have positive connotations.

It's amazing that checks haven't been completely phased out
due to technological advances after hundred of years in use.
It can mean that you recognize something to be true, as in "I accept your position that Star Wars is superior to Star Trek."

It's also used when you receive something willingly, such as "I accept this Academy Award." Similarly, it can denote ability to receive something. If you live in the U.S., you've undoubtedly been in stores before that have signs that proclaim "We do not accept checks".

Finally, it can be used as a formal way to say yes, like when you say "I happily accept your proposal of marriage" to the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio or Gael García Bernal in your dreams.


While accept has positive connotations, those of except are generally negative. It can be used as a preposition, a conjunction, or a verb. 

Calling them aubergines doesn't
make them taste any better.
As a preposition, it is a synonym for excluding, as in "I like all vegetables except eggplant."

When it's a conjunction, it can be a synonym for but, such as in the phrase "I would eat the beautiful meal you made, except I'm allergic to eggplant."

Except is also occasionally found in verb form, though most people prefer to use exclude or take exception to in its place. 

We accept that the grammar rules of English can be difficult to follow at times, but that doesn't mean you're excepted from them! Are there other grammatical errors that drive you crazy? Let us know about them in the comments below and we'll be sure to cover them in the future.