Sunday, October 14, 2007

27. The ACCEPT/EXCEPT Misstep

Hello, Friends, and thanks for visiting again as we take a look at another common grammar problem. Today's lesson is another special request from a good friend who says he's always been confused about these two words. He's not alone! Lots of folks seem to have run across the same dilemma and still aren't sure when to use one or the other.

Let's see if we can clear this problem up. Once again I will say that so many of our little problems like this can be easily understood if we have a good understanding of basic grammar, starting with the eight parts of speech. So... let's start there.

ACCEPT (in all of its forms) is simply a verb and means "to agree" or "to receive something willingly."

Some examples of the correct use of this verb follow:

Did you ACCEPT the nomination to be class treasurer?

I've just about ACCEPTED the fact that J.R. is so lazy he'll never drown in his own sweat.

Couldn't be easier, could it? Now...

What about EXCEPT? EXCEPT can also be used as a verb which probably explains some of the confusion between these two words that sound so much alike. However, the meaning changes when EXCEPT is used:

EXCEPT, when used as a verb (in all of its forms), means means "leave out" or "exclude."

You'll notice that EXCEPT used with this meaning doesn't appear to be used nearly as much as the prior or next use, which should help make this rule about as easy as pie. Here are a few examples:

It's unfair to EXCEPT people from the team that are so skinny you can't see them when they turn sideways.

Our teacher EXCEPTED all students who talked during class from the mid-morning break.

We most assuredly don't hear this use too much anymore, but if you do run across it, just think about the meaning--EXCEPT as a verb means "leave out" or "exclude."

What we DO have trouble with is with the other use of EXCEPT. More often, EXCEPT is used as a preposition. (Remember previous lessons where I have explained prepositions as words that show relationships?)

As a preposition, EXCEPT means "but" or "excluding."-- but its most common meaning is "other than."

Notice the following sentences using EXCEPT this way:

Carolyn was fixin' to cook supper for everybody EXCEPT her one-time boyfriend who stood her up last night.

EXCEPT for Aunt Eleanor who was mad enough to spit nails, the rest of us smiled and ignored Bob's comment about her new hairstyle.

Well, that's about it for the explanations of these words, and I hope you see how easy these are. Now try your hand at a few more examples:

1. The band director (accepted, excepted) Marvin from playing his trumpet in the parade because of the injuries to his mouth from the wreck.

2. All of the boys tore up the corn rows in that fight (accept, except) for Fred who took off running through the woods in the opposite direction.

3. I will not (accept, except) your pilin' up with trash like that any more!

4. Bring me a mess of turnips any day of the week (accept, except) days that don't end in "Y".

5. Greg (accepted, excepted) grits, country ham, and eggs for breakfast as fast as his mama could serve them.

All right! How did you do? I hope this lesson has been as easy for you as the others. Here are the correct answers.

1. EXCEPTED is correct because it is used as a verb and means "left out" or "excluded."

2. EXCEPT is correct because it is used as a preposition and means "but", "excluded", or "other than."

3. ACCEPT is correct because it is used as a verb and means "to agree" or "to receive something willingly." (Although the opposite is intended here.)

4. EXCEPT is correct because ...same as #2.

5. ACCEPTED is correct ...same as #3.

So, how well did you do? I hope you made 100 again and are proud of yourself! See how easy most of these things are? Just keep studying up a little on basic grammar rules, and you'll soon be a Master Grammarian!

The clock on the wall says it's time to finish today's lesson. Hope you have the best week ever. Continue to write and let me know what concerns you have about the grammar problems you hear most often, and I'll address them ASAP. Take care, peace, and much happiness. GG

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Welcome back, Everybody, and I hope all of you are healthy and happy and have been enjoying yourself since our last lesson.

We're moving right along with a new topic, addressed especially for a friend who wondered about this one, so let's put it on the front porch and take a good look at a little problem that shouldn't prove too difficult.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between COMPLEMENT and COMPLIMENT? Yes, they do sound exactly alike but have different meanings--making them HOMOPHONES. (Other examples of homophones are TO, TOO, and TWO.)

I think you'll see that these two words are very easily distinguishable if you'll just use the little trick that follows.

Let's take a look first at COMPLEMENT.

COMPLEMENT simply means something that fills up, makes perfect, or completes. Notice that both COMPLEMENT (along with its other forms) and COMPLETE have two "E's", so the meaning of COMPLEMENT has its own definition right there in the word itself. An example can be seen in a sentence such as this:

Joan's shoes and pocketbook COMPLEMENT her dress since the color gold is used in all three items.

Here, the idea is that the shoes, pocketbook, and dress are all "completed or made perfect" by Joan's idea of using a monochromatic color scheme.

Now, what about COMPLIMENT?

COMPLIMENT (and all of its other forms) just means to praise or admire. Here, we have only one "E'" in COMPLIMENT, so we now have a different meaning.

An example for this follows:

Greg loved to COMPLIMENT Debra's beautiful eyes.

Here, Greg is showing his admiration for Debra's eyes.

Easy, right?

Try the following sentences to see if you have this rule down pat.

(1) Some young ladies are suspicious of a man's attempt to (complement, compliment) their looks.

(2) What a wonderful (complement, compliment) to a baked ham supper is a big bowl of black-eyed peas!

(3) The sound of Whiteville High School's Marching Band (complements, compliments) the floats and other units in the Homecoming Parade.

(4) Steve's gorilla costume was perfectly (complemented, complimented) by hairy hands and feet.

(5) Betty said her blind date was so ugly he'd have to sneak up on a glass of water to get a date--even if he (complemented, complimented) it all night long. did you do this time?

(1) COMPLIMENT is correct because it implies a man's attempt to praise or admire these young ladies.

(2 COMPLEMENT is correct because it suggests how the addition of black-eyed peas is completing or making the supper perfect.

(3) COMPLEMENT is correct because it refers to the sound of the band completing or making the parade perfect.

(4) COMPLEMENT is correct because it implies how the hairy hands and feet completed or made the costume perfect .

(5) COMPLIMENT is correct because it suggests praise or admiration of the date (in the negative form).

Well, all right! I hope you made 100 on this little quiz and now completely understand these two homophones. Just keep in mind the two "E's" rule and you'll be good to go.

That time has come again, folks. As I write this, it's about pink of the evening, so I'm signing off for now. I hope all goes just perfect for you until we meet again. Do continue to give me ideas and suggestions about these lessons and I'll get right to them as soon as possible Much peace and happiness to you and yours, GG