Accept vs. Except

Look, it’s time to accept reality – you might not know when to use “except” vs. “accept.” But you’re not the only one. Accept vs. except is one of the more frequent grammar questions, and plenty of people mix up the two words without knowing they’re making a mistake at all. In this article, we’ll explain the different meanings of Accept vs. Except, provide examples of when to use each word, and then give you an opportunity to test your new knowledge.

What Does Accept Mean?

Accept’ is a verb that usually means to “consent to receive something.” ‘Something’ here can refer to both tangible or abstract objects. For instance, you might say, “He accepted his Christmas gift graciously,” but you could also say, “She was thrilled to accept his marriage proposal.” Adjacent to this meaning, students can be accepted into school, or someone can be accepted into a group or club.

Another meaning of ‘accept’, which is also quite common, is to “believe or come to recognize something.” For instance, you might say that “His family has come to accept his love for Lego,” or, “Eventually, he accepted that there was nothing he could do to change her.”

What Does Except Mean?

The definition of ‘except’ is more complicated. ‘Except’ is usually a preposition, though it can also be used as a conjunction or verb. As a conjunction, ‘except’ means the same thing as “unless.” For example, you might say, “I told him nothing, except that I hated him,” or, “She loved all types of dogs, except for Golden Retrievers.” In this usage, ‘except’ is almost always followed by ‘that.’

As a preposition, ‘except’ means “not including.” For instance, you might say, “I was soaking wet except for my hat,” or, “Except for Sarah, everyone at the party was allergic to peanuts.” In this usage, ‘except’ is almost always followed by ‘for.’

Lastly, ‘except’ can also be used as a verb meaning “to exclude.” For instance, you could say, “Sam was excepted from the group who had to perform community service,” or, “He excepted the outliers from his calculations.” In this case, ‘except’ must always be paired with an object — in the first sentence, the object of ‘Sam,’ and in the second case, the object of ‘the outliers.’ This word is generally only used in formal settings, so likely isn’t something you’ll hear in day-to-day conversations.

Tips to Remember Accept vs. Except

The best way to remember the difference between ‘accept’ and ‘except’ is to remember that, if you’re looking for a verb, ‘accept’ is almost always your answer. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a conjunction or preposition, you’re definitely in the market for ‘exclude.’ 

One easy tip to remember the difference, if you aren’t the greatest speller in the world, is that to ‘ACcept’ something is to ‘ACt.’ On the other hand, ‘EXCept,’ which is not a verb, means to ‘EXCludesomething. Hopefully, these tricks can help you the next time you get stumped!

Test Yourself on Accept vs. Except!

Ready to test your knowledge? Use our quiz below to cut your teeth on your new skills. Just fill in the blank in each sentence with the appropriate word. Struggling to get the correct answers? Re-read the article and try again.

  1. When the horror movie villain revealed himself, everyone _____ for the dog jumped.
  2. _____ for my mother, I’ve never met anyone who liked to eat pickle sandwiches.
  3. It’s time you ____ the truth: Firefly was cancelled, and it’s never coming back.
  4. I never liked cheese, ________ for nacho cheese, which is so different it hardly counts.
  5. ______ for Illinois, I don’t like much of the American Midwest.
  6. After much internal angst and thought about the matter, she realized she had to _____ herself for who she was.
  7. All primates like to live in groups, ____ for humans, who sometimes like to live alone.
  8. She almost screamed when she got the letter in the mail and learned she’d been _____ into Princeton.
  9. His family was so welcoming; they _____ her into the fold after only a single dinner together.
  10.  ______ the truth: the Earth is round!

Answer Key

  1. Except; 2. Except; 3. Accept; 4. Except; 5. Except; 6. Accept; 7. Except; 8. Accepted; 9. Accepted; 10. Accept


Was this blog post helpful for you? Do you still have questions about accept and except, or do you have questions about other homophones or commonly mixed-up words? Let us know in the comments and we might be able to create a post about it! Or check out our past grammatical blog posts, including our There, Their, and They’re blog post.

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