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Thread: excpet for

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    #21

    Re: excpet for

    Hello Blacknomi

    This is an interesting question. Merriam-Webster suggests that both ‘except for’ and ‘except’ can mean ‘with the exception of’, but that only ‘except’ can mean ‘excluding’.

    However, since ‘something that is excluded’ is by implication ‘something that is an exception’, the distinction doesn’t seem entirely valid. On the other hand, ‘except’ has a ‘stronger’ air than ‘except for’; so perhaps we use simple ‘except’ when the context requires a more marked sense of exception/exclusion:

    1. You can all have an ice cream, except MissQ. (Sense of ‘strong’ exception: perhaps MissQ has been naughty.)

    2. You can all have an ice cream, except for MissQ. (Sense of ‘weak’ exception: perhaps MissQ is allergic to ice cream.)

    But then we have the question of why it’s less idiomatic to use ‘except’ at the beginning of a sentence:

    3. Except for MissQ, everyone can have an ice cream - fine.
    4. Except MissQ, everyone can have an ice cream - not so fine.

    Wildly irresponsible guesswork: since ‘except’ was also once used to mean ‘unless’, and would often therefore have fronted a sentence, e.g.

    5. Except you address my grammatical enquiry forthwith, I shall be compelled to take it to another forum.

    perhaps prepositional ‘except’ was avoided in this position, because of the momentary confusion it would have caused. ‘Except = unless’ is no longer current; but perhaps the pattern remains. (‘Except for’ at the beginning of a sentence is much more recognizably prepositional.)

    Only guesswork, though. And it doesn’t answer the question of how ‘except’ acquired its following ‘for’ in the first place. ‘Except’ derives from the Latin ‘exceptus’, which means ‘having been taken out’; indeed, we can replicate the past participle effect in English:

    6. You can all have an ice cream – MissQ excepted.

    So how does the ‘for’ fit in, etymologically?

    Puzzling.

    MrP


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    #22

    Re: excpet for

    1. You can all have an ice cream, except MissQ. (Sense of ‘strong’ exception: perhaps MissQ has been naughty.)

    2. You can all have an ice cream, except for MissQ. (Sense of ‘weak’ exception: perhaps MissQ is allergic to ice cream.)

    Bonjour! MrP,

    Thanks for your stopping by. I understand what you said. Apart from the original discussion, I'd like to know why "all" falls so behind. I think it modifies a group, plural you.

    1-You can all have an ice cream, except for MissQ.
    2- You all can have an ice cream, except for MissQ.
    3- All of you can have an ice cream, except for MissQ.

    4- We all can do it together.
    5- We can all do it together.

    Does 5 make sense grammatically? I have a feel that I should've googled it first before shooting.


    Thanks,
    Blacknomi


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    #23


    • Join Date: Apr 2004
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    #24

    Re: excpet for


    Only guesswork, though. And it doesn’t answer the question of how ‘except’ acquired its following ‘for’ in the first place.
    Why is the sky blue? Your guesswork is as good as mine.

    Thanks, MrP.

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