Accept Vs. Except: What’s the Difference

Marcus Froland

Do you find yourself getting confused between ‘accept’ and ‘except’? You’re not alone. Many people mix up these two words, but there is a difference!

In this article, we’ll look at what accept and except mean, provide examples of each one in use, and give you tips to help you remember the distinction.

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • ‘Accept’ means to receive or agree to something, while ‘except’ means to exclude or leave out.
  • ‘Accept’ is a verb that requires an object following it, while ‘except’ is a preposition used to indicate exclusion or exception.
  • Use ‘accept’ when receiving something and use ‘except’ when excluding something.
  • Remember to use commas before ‘except’ when necessary for clarity.

Definition of Accept and Except

Accept means to receive or agree to something, whereas except means to exclude or leave out. You can accept an offer of help, a gift, or a proposal. On the other hand, you can except certain items from a list or people from an invitation.

Accept is used when you are willing and open to something while except is used when you want to set boundaries and separate yourself from something.

Both words are verbs and come from Latin roots: acceptare meaning “to take” and excipere meaning “to take out”.

Examples of Accept and Except

Examples of accept and except are easy to remember: you accept an invitation, but you except a condition.

To make it easier to understand the difference between these two words, here are three examples in markdown format:

  1. Accepting a job offer = You agree to the terms and conditions of employment.

  2. Excepting a job offer = You decline because there is something that doesn’t meet your expectations.

  3. Accepting criticism = You acknowledge that the feedback was valid and take responsibility for any mistakes made.

Excepting criticism = You disagree with the validity of the criticism or its relevance to the situation at hand.

Rules for Using Accept and Except

When it comes to using the words ‘accept’ and ‘except’, there are specific rules that should be followed. The word ‘accept’ is a verb that means to receive something, while ‘except’ is a preposition used to indicate exclusion or exception. To be precise and accurate in your communication, use these words appropriately.

Remember that when you use ‘accept’, you must have an object following it – for example, you can say ‘I accept your offer’. You cannot say ‘I accept’, as this does not make sense without something being accepted.

Meanwhile, when using ‘except’, always place it before the excluded item – for instance, “all fruits except apples”.

Additionally, keep in mind that although both words are pronounced identically in some dialects of English (in contrast with other English-speaking countries), they do not have interchangeable meanings and should not be confused with each other. In order to avoid miscommunication, make sure to use the correct word for the context.

Common Mistakes When Using Accept and Except

One common mistake when using ‘accept’ and ‘except’ is forgetting to include an object after ‘accept’. For instance, saying ‘I accept’ is incorrect; it should be ‘I accept [something].’

Another error is confusing the two words. Remember, ‘accept’ means to agree, while ‘except’ means to exclude.

Thirdly, people sometimes use ‘excepted for’ when they mean accepted by. To avoid this blunder, focus on the purpose of the sentence: Is something being agreed upon or excluded?

Lastly, many writers misuse commas with these words. For example, the phrase “All students were accepted except John” needs a comma before ‘except’ in order for it to make sense grammatically.

To summarize:

  1. Always include an object after ‘accept’.

  2. Know that ‘accept’ means agree and ‘except’ means exclude.

  3. Use accepted by instead of excepted for.

  4. Place a comma before ‘except’ in phrases or sentences that need one for clarity and accuracy.

Tips for Distinguishing Accept and Except

To distinguish between ‘accept’ and ‘except’, try learning a useful mnemonic. It can be helpful to remember that ‘ac-cept’ starts with the letter A, like the word ‘agree’. This implies that when you accept something, you agree with it.

On the other hand, ‘ex-cept’ starts with an E, like the word ‘exclude’. Therefore, when you except something, you exclude it from what is being discussed.

Another way to remember this difference is to consider how each word is used in a sentence: Accepting something usually means taking it in or agreeing with it; whereas excepting something often means leaving it out or excluding it.

To make sure you are using these words correctly in your writing and speaking, practice using them in different contexts until they become second nature.


You now know the difference between accept and except:

  • Accept is a verb meaning to receive or agree with.
  • Except is usually a preposition meaning to exclude.

Remember that if you’re ever uncertain, you can look at the context of the sentence for hints.

Don’t forget that common mistakes are using "except" when "accept" should be used and vice versa.

With practice, you’ll never mix up these two words again!