Accept vs. Except: What’s the Difference?

The words accept and except really don’t have much in common other than their pronunciations. Unlike other words that share similar pronunciations—say affect/effect—accept vs. except really are two distinct and separate words.

This makes it all the more important that you keep these two words separate from each other in your writing because they have very different meanings and confusing the two can lead to sloppy writing. In this post, I want to go over the definitions of both of these words, how to tell them apart, and give you a few tricks so you can remember the difference.

When to Use Accept

accept-vs-except-differenceAccept is a verb that has a number of various meanings but its most common ones are to receive or take (something offered), to take (something) as payment, and to be able or designed to take or hold (something). For example,

  • After being offered a promotion, he accepted the job.
  • This restaurant does not accept checks.
  • This type of wood will not accept oil paints.

Accept has a few other meanings, including, to regard as proper (The custom was widely accepted.), to regard as true (The scientists now accept the theory.), and to give admittance to or approval to (She was accepted as part of the group.).

When to Use Except

Except, just like accept, has a few different meanings to its name. Except can mean with the exclusion of, other than; if it were not for the fact; and to leave out or exclude.

Except is most commonly used as a preposition, but it can also be used as a conjunction and, on rare occasions, as a verb. Below you will see examples of all three.

  • We’re all going to the movies tonight, except Jamie. (Preposition)
  • I wish I could drive a nicer car, except that I cannot afford it. (Conjunction)
  • The outliers were excepted from the sampling statistic. (Verb)

Even though you can use except as a verb, it’s probably best to avoid it. It is used so infrequently as a verb that it will probably serve to confuse your readers more than anything else.

Tricks to Remember

If you are ever stuck as to which of these two words, there are a few good ways to keep them apart from each other.

You can remember that Accept means “to receive” by remembering that you Accept Awards. Both of these start with A’s and to Accept an Award is to receive it.

You can remember that Except means “with exclusion of, to exclude” because it has an X in it and you exclude someone that you don’t like.

Quiz and Sentence Examples

  1. It looks like everyone got an invitation ______ me.
  2. The president acknowledged his mistake and ______ responsibility.
  3. Our stores are open every day ______ Sundays.
  4. They never once made a remark ______ to complain.
  5. I gladly ______ his apology and we moved forward.

Display the answers below.

Summary

These two words are very different in their meanings so its important to keep them separated.

Accept is a verb and means to receive or take.

Except is a preposition, conjunction, and verb and means with the exclusion of, otherwise than, or to exclude.

Answers

  1. Except
  2. Accepted
  3. Except
  4. Except
  5. Accepted

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