Sunday, November 29, 2009

Literary Lapses 101: Part 3--Accept or Except

Today's diatribe concerns another extremely common confusion--whether to use accept or except. Probably part of the confusion is due to the way these words are pronounced. I pronounce them differently, but in some dialects they sound like homophones.

To accept something is to agree to something, to believe something is true, or to willingly receive something. Accept is a verb.

I accept this contract.

Do you accept the Bible as God's Word?

Maria didn't feel like she could accept the extravagant gift.

Except (usually a preposition or conjunction) means with the exception of, excluding, but or otherwise than.

Everyone was going to the ball except Cinderella.

I'm okay except for a headache.

It was a good plan except we didn't have enough money to carry it out.

It may help to think of the ex (X) in except as crossing something out. It's left out, excluded. Just like an ex-boyfriend is out of the picture. Accept, on the other hand, starts with an A like agree. Like a-okay. Tricks like these often help people remember troublesome words: I have to use a few memory jabbers as well.

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