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Prose Parade
Grammar and writing basics


I saw this mixup today, so it’s today’s topic. Usually the topic I choose is because I’ve seen it somewhere, and it yanked my chain.

“Accept” is a verb. It means to receive. For example, “I accept this Oscar for Arnold Swarzenegger who couldn’t be with us tonight.” (That’ll be the day Arnie gets an Oscar.)

“Except,” generally speaking, is a preposition and means to exclude. (Remember a prepositional phrase contains the preposition and a noun and can act as an adjective or an adverb.) For instance, “Everyone’s going except you.”

“Except” is also a conjunction (like “and” or “but”), a word than joins other words, thoughts, etc., but in this case it means only or otherwise. (It still has that deep meaning of exclusion.) For example, “I’d buy that wedding dress except it’s over my budget.” (I confess, I do occasionally watch “Say Yes to the Dress” and thank my lucky stars I didn’t wear a traditional white wedding gown when I married.) In this case “except” means only. Go ahead substitute “only” for “except.” See? If you care, the function of the conjunction in this case is to introduce an adverb clause.

Once in a great while “except” is a verb, and I mean a great while, and means to leave out or exclude. For example, “We excepted your first written warning, but you’ve still messed up enough to be fired.” Since most people don’t know about this usage, we don’t hear, but it still exists, so I’m telling you about it.

« Sheer/Shear – I’m sorry »

July 12, 2009 um 9:45 am
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