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Accept vs. Except

If you drive through a parking lot in an average American city, you’ll see signs pointing to places where you may or may not park. A sign may read, “No Parking Except Employees,” meaning only employees may park there. Accept and except sound similar when spoken aloud, but they have opposite meanings.


  • Why did my students refuse to except my suggestions?
  • I love chocolates, accept the ones with cherries inside.
  • I am honored to except the job of being a teacher.


To accept means to receive or acknowledge, while except means to remove, exclude, or disallow. Students refuse to accept (receive) suggestions when they are worded poorly. I really do love chocolate, except (excluding) the ones with cherries; they have a cloying taste, so I won’t eat them. I accepted the job of being a teacher, and it is an honor to do this work.


Both accept (“take something to oneself”) and except (“take out”) are rooted in Latin; notice, however, that accept describes an act of taking in and except describes an act of taking out. Any one of us can accept (take in) a number of criticisms, except (take out) the mean-spirited ones.

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