Accept vs. Except

One of the more common mistakes I see in writing is “except” in the place of “accept,” or vice versa. I like to think that people (at least implicitly) understand that “accept” is most commonly used as a verb and “except” is most commonly used as a preposition. Therefore, I believe this error is most often simply a result of carelessly spelling out a word as it sounds, much like when people write “would of” instead of “would have” (which makes me want to throw up in my mouth), rather than a lack of understanding.

Just to be on the safe side, here’s an example:


However, “except” can also be used as a verb, and this is where things can get a little trickier:

Accept (v): To agree to take or receive; to answer affirmatively.

I am happy to accept donations

Except (v): Specify as not included in a category or group; exclude.

I appreciate all the comments on my posts, spam comments excepted.

          (i.e. All the comments are appreciated except for the spam comments)

With such a close (nearly exact) phonetic relationship, and such a distant (nearly opposite) meaning, understanding the difference between these two VERBS is important.

Sometimes, extremely important:




About Boggleton Drive

I teach things to people and sometimes draw comics.
This entry was posted in Grammar Comics! and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Accept vs. Except

  1. Loving your work as always. “Should of/would of” is one of my huge pet peeves. A true test of one’s gag reflex.

    • Thanks! Ditto for your blog. And yes, “Would/should/could of” might just be the one grammar mistake I hate the most. Although I must confess that after years of resistance, I’ve relented a little on popular internet acronyms (LOL, WTF, OMG, etc). Please don’t judge me.

  2. And here I thought they were both the same, for all intensive purposes.

  3. Russ Nickel says:

    I wonder how often a poor knowledge of grammar has led to roller coaster mishaps. I’d like to think quite often, if only to help me believe in the importance of proper language.

  4. I have co-workers who ask my advice about this very issue. Then they use the word they wanted to use anyway which is often wrong. There are very few exceptions to that rule.

  5. I didn’t know ‘except’ could be used as a verb. Thanks for that little nugget of info.

    The usage of “would of” in the place of “would have” makes me wince, cringe and do violent things. “Would of” doesn’t even make an iota of sense.

  6. I’m a little scared to comment for fear I would of made a mistake accept that I can’t help myself!

  7. underwhelmer says:

    I’m so glad that you didn’t except your awards. 😉

  8. booksnob says:

    A friend of mine set up a filter on his forum to automatically change all instances of “would/could/should of” to “would/could/should have.” He’s my hero.

  9. olletron says:

    I completely agree with the whole wanting to be sick at incorrect grammar. It’s even worse if it’s something that’s been published. I saw ‘TV’S’ in one of my English Literature texts back when I was in college when it ought to have been plural, not possessive. I don’t understand how people can get these basic things wrong.

    I loved the example (as I love all of them), especially since you didn’t explain why it had happened until the panel after. Very clever.

    • Thanks! Appreciate it.

      And I hate apostrophe misuse as much as the next guy, but pluralizing an acronym like “TV” with or without an apostrophe comes down to stylistic choice, actually. I would never do it with “TV,” myself.
      Personally, and I believe this is grammatically fine, I only ever use an apostrophe to indicate plurality when it is essential for understanding.
      i.e. “the word “cheese” contains three e’s” (“three es” would be confusing)
      I got three As on my report card (not confusing)

  10. spider42 says:

    Some may call you a grammer nazi for stuff like this, but I say “Bravo!”

  11. I saw a big sign at the gas station stating “WE DO NOT EXCEPT AMERICAN EXPRESS!”

  12. R.J. Foster says:

    Brilliant work Professor Boggleton. I would, however, debate the source of this error being either carelessness or misunderstanding. I say it’s both. People don’t understand the difference and they don’t care. Because where more and more people are “typing,” they’ll use some silly abbreviation like “xcpt” for either word and move on. And that’s what makes me throw-up in my mouth.

  13. Beth says:

    Right up there with the accept/except conundrum is affect/effect… good grief, Charlie Brown. I see both sets used in error quite a bit, and I cringe every time!

  14. booksnob says:

    I just saw someone use “whose chances were squashed…”

    I cringed.

    I also just put you up for one of those meme awards. 🙂

    Thanks for the laughs!

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