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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    any differences between except and except for

    i really got confused about "except" and "except for." are there any significant differences? most of time can I use them interchangably? thanks :)

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    #2

    Re: any differences between except and except for

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    i really got confused about "except" and "except for." are there any significant differences? most of time can I use them interchangably? thanks :)


    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Good afternoon.

    (1) As I type this, no one has yet answered. So may I be the first?

    (2) Hopefully, someone will give you some good links.

    (3) I strongly recommend that you read Mr. Michael Swan's Practical English Usage. His section on these two prepositions will answer almost all of your questions.

    (4) Are these two prepositions sometimes interchangable? Yes, they are.

    (5) I can only invite you to study these examples carefully:

    (a) When you use "except," you want to emphasize the exception.


    (i) I packed everything except the computer. (It is really important that you know that the exception to "everything" was the computer. )

    (ii) Everybody came to my party except Joe. (It's important for you to now that Joe was the exception to "everybody." I thought he was my best friend. His not coming really hurt my feelings. )

    (b) When you use "except for," it often means that the information is just extra. It's nice to know but not super necessary.

    (i) We had a nice vacation, except for the weather. / Except for the weather, we had a nice vacation. (I want you to know that we had a nice vacation. I am NOT emphasizing any one word in the sentence. "Except for the weather" is just an added thought. Like: We had a nice vacation. Oh, by the way, the weather was an exception to "We had a nice vacation." DID YOU NOTICE THE COMMAS? Usually you use commas with "except for" because the information after " except for" can be erased and the main idea of the sentence is still there. )

    (ii) Except for Mona, everybody came to my birthday party./ Everyone came to my party, except for Mona. (This is really UNimportant extra news. I don't even know Mona. One of my friends had invited her. I don't care that she didn't come. Did you notice the commas?)

    Have a nice day!

  2. kfredson's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: any differences between except and except for

    Thank you for elucidating this. I must say, the original question had me a bit stumped. But, tell me, would you allow "except for" to be substituted for "except" in your earlier examples. Clearly you can't use "except" in place of "except for" in sentences "b1" and "b2," but isn't "except for" commonly used in place of "except?"

    But thanks again for your explanation. It is most useful.

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    #4

    Re: any differences between except and except for

    Quote Originally Posted by kfredson View Post
    Thank you for elucidating this. I must say, the original question had me a bit stumped. But, tell me, would you allow "except for" to be substituted for "except" in your earlier examples. Clearly you can't use "except" in place of "except for" in sentences "b1" and "b2," but isn't "except for" commonly used in place of "except?"

    But thanks again for your explanation. It is most useful.
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Good morning, kfredson.

    (1) Thank you for holding my feet to the fire -- in your characteristically kind and gentle manner.

    (2) You are, of course, 100% correct.

    (a) My first two examples could also use "except for."

    (1) Mr. Swan writes: He ate everything except (for) the beans./ Nobody came except (for) John and Mary.

    (3) I did not want to further confuse the original poster with a choice. When I study a foreign language, I don't want choices. I want the security blanket of a "rule."

    (4) Therefore, I decided to avoid confusing the lady/gentleman who asked the question.

    (a) I decided to follow Professor Quirk's suggestion:
    (i) "except" = postmodifying phrase.
    (ii) "except for" = disjunct.

    (5) As you so rightly pointed out, things are not so arbitrary in real speech. Thus, both could be used in my first two examples. I felt a learner, however, would appreciate a definite answer.

    Thanks again for your gentle comment. The original poster's question and your gentle rejoinder have really helped me. That old saying is really true: If you wish to learn something, try teaching it to others.

  3. MASM's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: any differences between except and except for

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Good morning, kfredson.

    (1) Thank you for holding my feet to the fire -- in your characteristically kind and gentle manner.

    (2) You are, of course, 100% correct.

    (a) My first two examples could also use "except for."

    (1) Mr. Swan writes: He ate everything except (for) the beans./ Nobody came except (for) John and Mary.

    (3) I did not want to further confuse the original poster with a choice. When I study a foreign language, I don't want choices. I want the security blanket of a "rule."

    (4) Therefore, I decided to avoid confusing the lady/gentleman who asked the question.

    (a) I decided to follow Professor Quirk's suggestion:
    (i) "except" = postmodifying phrase.
    (ii) "except for" = disjunct.

    (5) As you so rightly pointed out, things are not so arbitrary in real speech. Thus, both could be used in my first two examples. I felt a learner, however, would appreciate a definite answer.

    Thanks again for your gentle comment. The original poster's question and your gentle rejoinder have really helped me. That old saying is really true: If you wish to learn something, try teaching it to others.
    This is a very interesting post. Maybe there's no definite answer except (for) the one given by Mr. Swan .
    I distinguish them because "except for" can go at the beginning of a sentence and need commas and "except" doesn't . I also think you're quite right following Quirk's suggestion.

  4. Shenfeng's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: any differences between except and except for

    *not a teacher*


    I also like Parser's post and would like to make some additions as to the usage of 'except' and 'except for'.

    To this end I'd like to start off with an alternative explanation of when to use 'except for'. It basically states the same as the one Parser has given above but it admits another view on things, it may be even a bit more general.

    One uses 'except for' when one is mentioning something that prevents a statement from being completely true.

    (1) The classroom is silent, except for the scratching of pens on paper.

    (2) The vase is flawless, except for a minor scratch on the bottom.

    In (2), for instance, the information 'except for a minor scratch on the bottom' can be of utter importance to a potential buyer.

    One uses 'except' to introduce a "thing" that the main statement doesn't apply to.

    (3) Almost all runners were tested for doping, except the Germans.

    Notice how the main statement still holds true when the exception is dropped from the sentence.

    Also I'd like to add that after words like 'all', 'everything','everyone','anything', and 'anyone' 'except' can be exchanged with 'but'.

    (4.1) He could see everyone except Michael.
    (4.2) He could see everyone but Michael.


    It is also possible to use 'except' in front of a finite clause if it starts with 'what', 'when', 'that', 'where', and 'while' (and maybe others?)

    (5) She knew basically nothing about him except what her best friend Anne had told her.


    I think most of the explanations have been taken from Collins, English Usage.

  5. kfredson's Avatar

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    #7

    Re: any differences between except and except for

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Good morning, kfredson.

    (1) Thank you for holding my feet to the fire -- in your characteristically kind and gentle manner.

    (2) You are, of course, 100% correct.

    (a) My first two examples could also use "except for."

    (1) Mr. Swan writes: He ate everything except (for) the beans./ Nobody came except (for) John and Mary.

    (3) I did not want to further confuse the original poster with a choice. When I study a foreign language, I don't want choices. I want the security blanket of a "rule."

    (4) Therefore, I decided to avoid confusing the lady/gentleman who asked the question.

    (a) I decided to follow Professor Quirk's suggestion:
    (i) "except" = postmodifying phrase.
    (ii) "except for" = disjunct.

    (5) As you so rightly pointed out, things are not so arbitrary in real speech. Thus, both could be used in my first two examples. I felt a learner, however, would appreciate a definite answer.

    Thanks again for your gentle comment. The original poster's question and your gentle rejoinder have really helped me. That old saying is really true: If you wish to learn something, try teaching it to others.
    Good morning!

    I certainly didn't mean to hold your feet to the fire! But, as so often happens here, we provide one another with opportunities to rethink our unconscious habits. I'm sure that for many years I have seen students (who are native English speakers) unnecessarily add "for" to "except" without my even noticing it. Perhaps I will begin pointing it out to them, although in the end it is more a matter of style.

    As for those who are learning English as a second language, they will not naturally notice what "sounds" correct -- or at least permissible -- and what doesn't. Hence, you are right to point them to a rule which can be followed.

    Of course, a rule that may be a "security blanket" for ESL students may just be an unnecessary complication for native speakers. But it is quite useful to become aware of these things -- and great fun, as well. What a language we have!

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