Accept - except

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Accept and except are sometimes confused in writing, partly because in rapid colloquial speech they sound identical, 'ik SEPT', IPA: /ɪ (or ə)k ˈsɛpt/. If we speak carefully, e.g. to point out the difference, we sometimes say 'EK-sept' (IPA: /ˈɛk(or ɪ) sɛpt/) and 'AXE-sept' (/ˈæk sɛpt/). (Foreign learners of English should be aware that they may hear one word of this pair when their teacher has said another. Native speakers usually do not - though some occasionally mis-spell them.)

  • Accept is a verb, meaning roughly 'to receive' or, when we are talking of ideas, suggestions and the like, 'to agree to [or with]'. It has a related noun acceptance.
  • Except is a preposition (and, more rarely, a verb). As a preposition, it means 'other than' or 'apart from', for example "He did all his jobs except one", or "She practises every day except Sunday".
    • As a verb, 'to except' something is 'to omit it from some list or other': "All my teachers are brilliant - I except Mr X, whose lessons no one can enjoy." There is a related noun exception. Sometimes we can take exception to (~ 'take offence with', 'disagree violently with') something (or someone); sometimes we can make an exception of something (~ 'treat it as different', or 'leave it out of' e.g. a list.)