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  1. #1
    Anonymous Guest

    Except vs except for

    What is the difference between 'except' and 'except for'?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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  3. #3
    mike x Guest
    Thats what I thought until a student gave me the following example;
    The bus was empty except for me
    In that sentence 'except' doesn't work (at least for me), but 'except for' does (or does it?).
    Thanks again
    Mike

  4. #4
    mike x Guest
    Any ideas?

  5. #5
    CuriousT Guest
    Since I'm not a native speaker, I have to rely on what I've read or what I've been told somewhere. But this might work for you.

    I think except for when it modifies a noun can be replaced by except, but except for when it doesn't modify a particular noun cannot.

    Consider:
    (1) The room was entirely empty except for Morris. (adapted from COBUILD English Usage)
    (2) Everyone was gone except for me. (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary)

    In (1), except for Morris does not have any noun to modify within the sentence. Notice it cannot modify the room because the room except Morris doesn't make sense. It, rather, modifies the proposition, i.e., the room was entirely empty.

    In (2), on the other hand, except for me does have a noun to modify, i.e., everyone, because everyone except me makes sense here. (Incidentally, note also that, right after the noun it modifies, except works, but not except for.)

    I imagine you can use except in place of except for in (2), but not in (1). Your example is a case similar to (1).

    Does this work for you?

    CuriousT

  6. #6
    mike x Guest
    Curious T,

    Thank you very much.
    That makes good sense.

    Would you mind greatly if I quote your explanation to a student in another forum?

    Thanks again,
    Mike

  7. #7
    Susie Smith Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by mike x
    Any ideas?
    When "except" means the same as "but", you can use either "except" or "except for".

    Everybody is asleep except for Mary. OR Everybody is asleep except Mary. OR Everybody is asleep but Mary.

    BUT

    The bus was empty except for me. does NOT mean the same as
    The bus was empty but me.

    There was nobody on the bus but me. OR There was nobody on the bus except for me. OR There was nobody on the bus except me.

    Does this help you, Mike?

  8. #8
    mike x Guest
    Thank you too Susie.

    I should now be able to help the person who asked that question.

    Thanks again,
    Mike

  9. #9
    CuriousT Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by mike x
    Would you mind greatly if I quote your explanation to a student in another forum? Mike
    No, not at all. Happy to be able to help. You can revise it any way you want, too. You can also combine it with Susie's explanation.

    Would you mind if I asked you at which forum you are going to post it? Not that I want to watch what you do.:D
    I just enjoy visiting such forums because I learn a lot from exchanges between students and teachers.

    CuriousT

  10. #10
    mike x Guest
    Not at all, the forum is at http://www.englishforums.com/ >general English questions.

    Thank you both again'
    Mike

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