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“Accept” vs. “Except”, Explained

Accept is a verb: to receive, take, or agree to something that is offered or presented. Except is mostly a preposition that means 'but' or 'excluding'.

Last updated on February 12th, 2024 at 08:00 pm



How do you use “except” vs. “accept”?

Did you accept the offer or except it? This post explains when to use accept vs. except so that you can learn the correct use with no exceptions!

Accept/except used in text conversation.
Accept/except shown in conversation.



What’s the difference between except and accept?

Do you accept or except a job? The answer is that you accept a job, but let’s see why:

Accept is a transitive verb that means “to receive (something offered) willingly:  “I’ll accept her gift”; “an idea that is widely accepted“.

If someone gives you an excuse to explain why they’re late, asd an example, you may accept or reject their explanation.  

Sentences with the verb accept

The team captain accepted full responsibility for the defeat in the championship game.

Despite their differences, they learned to accept each other’s opinions and work together.

He hesitated for a moment before finally accepting the job offer.

Except is mostly used as a preposition meaning “with the exclusion or exception of”; e.g., “we’re open for business every day except Sundays“; “Everyone was invited to the party except  for me”.  

  • Except is also sometimes used as a conjunction meaning “but for that”, e.g., ‘I would have gotten home earlier, except that the traffic was horrendous‘.

  • Rarely you will see except used as a verb, as in, ‘present company excepted‘; in this contexts, its meaning is similar to excluding or barring.

Sentences with the preposition/conjunction/verb except

Everyone was invited to the party except for Mark.

She likes all types of music except heavy metal.

The bakery is open every day except Mondays.

Synonyms of accept

Keep in mind that these synonyms can have slightly different nuances or connotations depending on the context in which they are used. Choose the word that best suits the context it’s being used in.

  • confirm
  • have
  • accede
  • assent (to)
  • support
  • endorse
  • warrant
  • consent
  • welcome
  • abide
  • adopt
  • ratify
  • concede to
  • sanction
  • embrace
  • yield to

Synonyms of except

Keep in mind that each of these synonyms might have different shades of meaning or usage. Choose the word that best fits the context you’re using it in.

  • aside from
  • barring
  • besides
  • but
  • excluding
  • other than
  • save
  • apart from
  • outside of

The origin of accept/except

Late 14c., “to take what is offered; admit and agree to (a proposal, etc.),” from Old French accepter (14c.) or directly from Latin acceptare “take or receive willingly,” frequentative of accipere “receive, get without effort,” from ad “to” (see ad-) + capere “to take” (from PIE root *kap- “to grasp”). Related: Accepted; accepting.

Late 14c., excepten, “to receive,” from Old French excepter (12c.), from Latin exceptus, past participle of excipere “to take out, withdraw; make an exception, reserve,” from ex “out” (see ex-) + capere “to take,” from PIE root *kap- “to grasp.” Meaning “to leave out” is from 1510s. Related: Excepted; excepting. Adjectival function led to use as a preposition, conjunction (late 14c.).

In review

“Except” and “accept” are two words that sound similar but have different meanings and uses:

  1. Except is a preposition, conjunction and less commonly used as a verb. As a preposition, except means to exclude or leave out something from a group or category.

  2. Accept is a verb: to receive, take, or agree to something that is offered or presented. Example sentences: She accepted the invitation to the party.



Read about other confusing words



Sources

1. “Accept.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/accept. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.

2. “Except.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/except. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.

3. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of except.” Online Etymology Dictionary, https://www.etymonline.com/word/except. Accessed 13 August, 2023.

4. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of accept.” Online Etymology Dictionary, https://www.etymonline.com/word/accept. Accessed 13 August, 2023.

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