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    #1

    except and except for

    Dear teachers,

    No.1
    We have covered all the issues except one.
    Since "except for" can mean "not including" which is the same with "except" I think I can replace "except" in the above sentence with "except for". Is that right?

    No.2
    We worked for a solid four hours without a break of any sort, except for about five minutes when we stopped to talk.

    Here "for" goes with "five minutes" rather than "except". Is that right?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

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    #2

    Re: except and except for

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    Dear teachers,

    No.1
    We have covered all the issues except one.
    Since "except for" can mean "not including" which is the same with "except" I think I can replace "except" in the above sentence with "except for". Is that right? Yes.

    No.2
    We worked for a solid four hours without a break of any sort, except for about five minutes when we stopped to talk.

    Here "for" goes with "five minutes" rather than "except". Is that right? No, IMO the same applies as in #1.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    Bhai.

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    #3

    Re: except and except for

    Dear bhaisahab,

    Thank you very much for your explanation. I found "except" and "except for" quite confusing. sometimes they are interchangeable sometimes they are not. It seems there are no rules.

    Please read the following two sentences:

    We worked for a solid four hours without a break of any sort, except for about five minutes when we stopped to talk.

    At that time I semed to be all movement, wild, stiff, snakelike movement that never left me, except in sleep.

    Could you please kindly explain why I can't use "except for" in the second sentence?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Bhai.

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    #4

    Re: except and except for

    Hello jiang

    There's a rule; there's always a rule. The problem is finding it.

    I believe your instincts are correct:


    In 1a., 'for' occurs twice; in 1b., it is the first 'for' that is omitted:


    1a. We worked for a solid four hours without a break of any sort, except (for) [when we took a break] for about five minutes when we stopped to talk.

    1b. We worked for a solid four hours without a break of any sort, except for about five minutes when we stopped to talk. <'for' of except (for) is omitted>




    2a. At that time I seemed to be all movement, wild, stiff, snakelike movement that never left me, except (for) [when it left me] in sleep.

    2b. At that time I seemed to be all movement, wild, stiff, snakelike movement that never left me, except in sleep. <'for' of except (for) is omitted>




    3a. We have covered all the issues except (for) one.

    3b. We have covered all the issues except one. <'for' of except (for) is omitted>



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    #5

    Re: except and except for

    Dear Lauralie,

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Thank you very much for your explanation.

    I find "except for" and "except" quite confusing.

    Please read the following sentences and my explanation and explain to me if I am correct or not.

    No.1
    All countries signed on the agreement except the United States. (interchangeable, because “except for” bears the meaning of “not including”)
    No.2
    We all went to the Great Wall except Zhou, who was sick in bed. (the same with No.1, that is , interchangeable, because except for bears the meaning of “not including”)

    No.3
    We all had a wonderful time except for the bad weather. (interchangeable, because except bears the meaning of “apart from”)

    No.4
    At night, the street was deserted except for a truck or two. (the same with No.3, that is , interchangeable, because except bears the meaning of “apart from”)


    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    Hello jiang

    There's a rule; there's always a rule. The problem is finding it.

    I believe your instincts are correct:


    In 1a., 'for' occurs twice; in 1b., it is the first 'for' that is omitted:

    1a. We worked for a solid four hours without a break of any sort, except (for) [when we took a break] for about five minutes when we stopped to talk.

    1b. We worked for a solid four hours without a break of any sort, except for about five minutes when we stopped to talk. <'for' of except (for) is omitted>




    2a. At that time I seemed to be all movement, wild, stiff, snakelike movement that never left me, except (for) [when it left me] in sleep.

    2b. At that time I seemed to be all movement, wild, stiff, snakelike movement that never left me, except in sleep. <'for' of except (for) is omitted>




    3a. We have covered all the issues except (for) one.

    3b. We have covered all the issues except one. <'for' of except (for) is omitted>

    Last edited by jiang; 24-Dec-2010 at 10:10.

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    #6

    Re: except and except for

    I like your interpretation:


    • except (for), meaning not including
    • except for, meaning apart from


    Here's another way of looking at the pattern:

    1.
    All countries signed on the agreement except the United States.

    • USA = a country, so you can omit 'for'
    2. We (students) all went to the Great Wall except Zhou, who was sick in bed.

    • Zhou = a student, so you can omit 'for'
    3. We all had a wonderful time except for the bad weather.

    • We ≠ bad weather, so use 'for'

    4.
    At night, the street was deserted (of vehicles) except for a truck or two. <Passive>

    • the street ≠ a vehicle, so use 'for'
    ______________________
    5. There were no cars on the street except (for) a small white one. <notional subject>
    Last edited by lauralie2; 24-Dec-2010 at 11:11.

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    #7

    Re: except and except for

    Dear Lauralie,

    Thank you so much for your help. I think I understand the use of the two by reading the highlighted parts. What confused me was the definitions in the dictionary:

    except: conj. 1. except for a) apart from b) except for: leaving out or not including
    except: prep. used to introduce the only thing or person in a group about which a statement is not true

    The definitions are quite confusing. How can I know when it is used as a conjunction and when it is used as a preposition? That's why I asked all those questions.

    I shall decide between the two according to your rule.

    Jiang


    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    I like your interpretation:


    • except (for), meaning not including
    • except for, meaning apart from
    Here's another way of looking at the pattern:

    1. All countries signed on the agreement except the United States.

    • USA = a country, so you can omit 'for'
    2. We (students) all went to the Great Wall except Zhou, who was sick in bed.

    • Zhou = a student, so you can omit 'for'
    3. We all had a wonderful time except for the bad weather.

    • We ≠ bad weather, so use 'for'
    4. At night, the street was deserted (of vehicles) except for a truck or two. <Passive>

    • the street ≠ a vehicle, so use 'for'
    ______________________
    5. There were no cars on the street except (for) a small white one. <notional subject>

  4. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: except and except for

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    What confused me was the definitions in the dictionary:

    except: conj. 1. except for a) apart from b) except for: leaving out or not including
    except: prep. used to introduce the only thing or person in a group about which a statement is not true
    I am as confused as you are by that entry as I am by this one, which has except as "preposition conjunction" (whatever that means) and where some of the examples have 'for' as optional while others do not, especially where you would expect it to be optional. Nevertheless, all is not lost. Click here to find what you are looking for.

    MerryChristmas

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    #9

    Re: except and except for

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    I am as confused as you are by that entry as I am by this one, which has except as "preposition conjunction" (whatever that means)
    At the end of the deifinition they have: "(Definition of except preposition/conjunction from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)" I assume, therefore that a '/' was accidentally omitted between 'preposition' and 'conjunction' at the start of the entry.

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    #10

    Re: except and except for

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    At the end of the deifinition they have: "(Definition of except preposition/conjunction from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)" I assume, therefore that a '/' was accidentally omitted between 'preposition' and 'conjunction' at the start of the entry.
    Right, it's a preposition as well as a conjunction, but where exactly? That's the confusing part for learners.


    not including; but not (link)
    The museum is open daily except
    Monday(s).

    Here 'except' is used as a preposition. We know this because it takes the noun 'Monday(s)' as its object. But, what about its meaning?

    The museum is open daily except/but
    (it is not open) Mondays <conj>

    Here 'except' joins two clauses, which makes it a conjunction. On the surface, 'except' is a preposition, but its meaning is that of a 'but', a conjunction, which is where the confusion sets in for learners. The solution, of course, is in the surface structure:


    • when 'except' takes an object, it is a preposition (e.g., except/but not Monday),



    • when 'except' takes a [surface] clause, it is a conjunction (e.g., except (for that fact that) it is closed on Monday).



    Given, however, that structure is meaning, the learner's question now becomes, "Is there a difference in meaning between 'except' (conj.) and 'except' (prep.)?" And so, off to the dictionaries where we find except Preposition Conjunction; (meaning) not including; but not, which adds to the confusion (when does 'except' mean 'not including' and when does it mean 'but not?; moreover, which meaning does the conjunction express and which does the preposition express? Adding to the confusion are the examples where 'for' highlighted:



    Everyone was there except for Sally.

    There is nothing to indicate the building's past, except (for) the fireplace.


    In both of the example above, 'for' is used as a preposition (we know this because it takes a noun (i.e., Sally; the fireplace) as its object), but 'for' is optional in one yet not optional in the other. Why? What's the pattern? (Learners want to know.)

    In short, the dictionary entries are confusing to say the least. Learners will ask:


    1. What's the difference in meaning between the conjunction 'except' and the preposition 'except'? (e.g., Everyone was there except/but Sally; Everyone was there except/but (for the fact that) Sally (was not).
    2. When can I omit 'for' and when should I not omit it? (e.g., Everyone was there except (for) Sally.)
    3. Doesn't 'apart from' also mean 'not including' and 'but not', as well as 'were it not for? If so, then why does the dictionary have 'except' (meaning, apart from) listed as a conjunction if it means 'but not', a phrase used to replace prepositional 'except'? (e.g., All countries signed on except/apart from/but not, not including the United States).


    What are your thoughts?

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