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

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