Accept vs. Except – How to Use Each Correctly
What is the Difference Between Accept and Except?
Accept and except look and sound similar. However, there is no overlap between the definitions of these two words. Therefore, you must be careful not to confuse one for the other.
Accept is a verb that means to agree to something or to receive or take something.
- The woman accepted the position of manager within the company.
Except is also a verb. It refers to the exclusion of a person or thing.
- Everyone who tried out for the soccer team made it onto the team except for me.
Now, let’s look at the specific ways to use these words, as well as how to avoid common mistakes.
Using Accept in a Sentence
When to use accept: Accept is a verb that means to receive something willingly or to consent to something.
- I accepted their wedding gift even though it doesn’t fit in our house, and we’ll have to return it later. (first definition)
- I’m so glad you accepted our offer to visit us at our summer cabin! (second definition)
- The accused man is willing to accept the plea bargain you are offering. (second definition)
People sometimes use accept for people. In this case, accepting someone means that you don’t reject him or her. You approve of him or her and love or enjoy this person regardless of any negative qualities.
Using Except in a Sentence
When to use except: Except can be a preposition or a conjunction that shows exclusion or exception.
- In the song about the great flood, all of the animals got onto a boat to be rescued except the unicorns.
- I would believe that you stayed home last night except the car’s gas tank is empty. That means you must have driven somewhere.
- It’s a good idea to eat fruits and vegetables except when there are too many pesticides on them.
The words but and save are sometimes synonyms of except. For example, in the sentence People adopted all the puppies except one, either but or save would carry the same meaning. However, but doesn’t emphasize the exclusion as strongly as except, and save sounds more dated.
Remembering Accept vs. Except
It is possible to use the spelling of these words to remember the meanings.
For example, except and exception share such close spellings that it is easy to remember the connection between the two. Also, the letter x is a common symbol to show that something is not wanted.
Alternatively, accept begins with a, just like the two words agree or acquire, both of which have similar meanings to accept.
- Sky Sports claims the Catalans told Jurgen Klopp’s side they had until 7pm on Sunday evening to accept the new bid for the Brazilian. –The Sun
- The most visible example of McGregor’s resilience came last year, after he accepted a fight with Nate Diaz as a late replacement at a weight 25 pounds above his own UFC featherweight class to preserve a pay-per-view main event, then lost by humbling second-round submission. –LA Times
- Most of Southern California will provide a good view of Monday’s solar eclipse – except at the beach. –OC Register
- The 10-speed, available only on a couple of high-line F-150 models for 2017, is standard equipment on with all 2018 F-150 drivetrains except the base 3.3-liter naturally aspirated V-6, which uses a six-speed automatic. The updated F-150 just went on sale. –USA Today
Quiz: Except vs. Accept
Instructions: Fill in the blank with the correct word, either except or accept, in the correct form.
- It is hard for some people to ____________ the fact that someday, everyone will die.
- ________ for Johnny, none of the boys in the class wanted to dance.
- The adoptive parents were overjoyed to ___________ their new daughter into their family.
- You should never use violence against other people, _______________ in the case of self defense, or defending someone else from violence.
- The judge is in jail because she _______________ bribes. The police are unsure exactly how many trials these bribes affected.
See answers below.
Should I use accept or except? These two verbs sound the same except for the first vowel sound, but they have unrelated meanings.
- Accept primarily refers to receiving something.
- Except primarily refers to excluding something.
Make sure you are aware of this difference when choosing which of these words to use.