Accept vs. Except – How To Distinguish These Two

07.03.24 Commonly confused words Time to read: 5min

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In the process of crafting an academic paper, it’s common to encounter a range of commonly confused words. The words “accept” and “except” are particularly prone to confusion due to their similar sounds. Such mix-ups can affect the quality of your work, given that academic writing demands clear and precise communication to effectively present arguments and ideas.

Definition of “accept” vs. “except”

Although they’re spelled differently and mean entyrely different things, “accept” and “except” are frequently confused since they are homophones, meaning they’re pronounced alike but are different in meaning and spelling. “Accept” is a transitive verb, but it can have a couple of slightly different meanings: to receive something willingly, to agree to, or to acknowledge something.

“Except” is a commonly used word in the English language, and can often function as a preposition, a verb, or a conjunction. It means to exclude or leave out something or somaeone.

Accept

… is a verb with slightly different meanings. It means to receive, to acknowledge or to agree to something.

Except

…is a verb that often also functions as a preposition and a conjunction. It means to exclude something.

The key to differentiating the two words is paying attention to the context. If you aim to exclude something, you use “except,” and if you aim to agree, acknowledge or receive something willingly, you use “accept.”

Using the word “accept“

In the following explanation, the grammatical function of the verb “accept” will be clearly illustrated, along with examples of how it’s commonly used in a sentence.

“Accept” as a verb

The word “accept” only functions as a transitive verb, which is a verb that requires a direct object to receive the action. It means to acknowledge, to agree to, or to receive something willingly. Here are three short example sentences to illustrate its usage.

Examples

  • She had to accept the harsh reality of her situation.
  • The shop doesn’t accept returns without receipts.
  • After much deliberation, he decided to accept the job offer.

Tip for using “accept” correctly

Utilizing synonyms for “accept” helps prevent repetition and redundancy, enhancing the overall quality of your language. Incorporating these alternatives enriches your writing, making it more varied and adding depth to your expressions.

Synonyms Examples
Receive The community center will accept donations until the end of the week.
The community center will receive donations until the end of the week.
Acknowledge You need to accept the terms and conditions before you proceed.
You need to acknowledge the terms and conditions before you proceed.
Embrace I accept your apology and hope we can move forward.
I embrace your apology and hope we can move forward.

Using the word “except”

How “except” is used in a sentence, along with its many grammatical functions, will be explained more thoroughly in the following paragraph.

“Except” as a verb

“Except” as a verb, indicates to prevent from being included, accepted or considered. You can also encounter this word in the sense of “to object” in a legal case or “to make an exception.”

Examples

  • The new rule applies to everyone, the manager excepted.
  • She excepted that one incident from her otherwise positive review of the hotel.
  • You must except the outliers before analysing the data for trends.

“Except” as a preposition

As a preposition, “except” is most often seen and means “excluding,” “apart from,” or, in some cases, “but.”

Examples

  • Everyone is invited to the meeting except John.
  • She likes all genres of music except classical.
  • The museum is free to all children under ten, except during special exhibitions.

“Except” as a conjunction

“Except” also functions as a conjunction that is synonymous with “unless” or “but.”

Examples

  • You can’t go through this door except in an emergency.
  • We were ready to leave on time, except the car wouldn’t start.
  • I eat all kinds of fruits, except when they’re not in season.

Tips for using “except” correctly

Using synonyms for “except” can enhance writing, prevent repetition and redundancy, and add nuance. Here you’ll find some alternatives with sample sentences.

Synonyms Examples
Exclude (verb) The rule generally applies, the CEO excepted.
The rule generally applies, the CEO excluded.
Excluding (preposition) The park is accessible to everyone except pets.
The park is accessible to everyone excluding pets.
But (conjunction) She would have bought the dress except it was too expensive.
She would have bought the dress, ⁣but it was too expensive.

Test yourself!

Practice sheet

To improve your ability to differentiate between “accept” and “except”, fill in the blanks in the given sentences. The correct answers can be found on the second tab.

  1. The garden was beautiful, ______ for a few weeds.
  2. He finally ______ the terms of the contract after some negotiation.
  3. He could do nothing ______ wait for the news.
  4. You need to ______ responsibility for your actions to move forward.
  5. The job is perfect, ______ that it requires a lot of travel.
  6. Everyone was invited ______ Sarah, who was out of town.
  7. We would have gone swimming, ______ it started raining.
  8. She decided to ______ the job offer after considering all other options.
  9. They were happy to ______ the gift with gratitude.
  10. I would have finished the book, ______ I got distracted by a phone call.
  1. The garden was beautiful, except for a few weeds.
  2. He finally accepted the terms of the contract after some negotiation.
  3. He could do nothing except wait for the news.
  4. You need to accept responsibility for your actions to move forward.
  5. The job is perfect, except that it requires a lot of travel.
  6. Everyone was invited except Sarah, who was out of town.
  7. We would have gone swimming, except it started raining.
  8. She decided to accept the job offer after considering all other options.
  9. They were happy to accept the gift with gratitude.
  10. I would have finished the book except I got distracted by a phone call.
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FAQs

“Accept” is only used as a verb and indicates agreeing, acknowledging, or consenting to something. Except, however, is often used as a conjunction or preposition in the sense of excluding somaeone or something. As a verb, it means to exclude or make an objection.

The correct phrase is “to accept a job,” because it is used to receive something offered, in this case, a job.

I accept your apology. (acknowledge)

I except you from the team. (exclude)

I expect you to be here by 10 o’clock. (anticipate)