Except vs except for

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Anonymous

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

Tdol

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Nothing much. ;-)
 
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mike x

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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
 
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CuriousT

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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
 
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mike x

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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
 
S

Susie Smith

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mike x said:
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?
 
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mike x

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Thank you too Susie.

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

Thanks again,
Mike
 
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CuriousT

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mike x said:
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
 
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CuriousT

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Susie,

Can I ask you a question? What variety of English do you speak? American, British, Australian, ...?

I'm asking this because I jumped to Mike's website and got curious about whether there is a difference among varieties of English in regard to this issue.

CuriousT
 
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Susie Smith

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CuriousT said:
Susie,

Can I ask you a question? What variety of English do you speak? American, British, Australian, ...?

I'm asking this because I jumped to Mike's website and got curious about whether there is a difference among varieties of English in regard to this issue.

CuriousT

Good question! I'm an American who was partly brought up in Brazil and partly in the US. We always spoke English at home (my folks are from Nebraska and South Dakota) and I always went to American schools here in Brazil or in the US. I never attended Brazilian schools. Usually the teachers here in Brazil were Americans but one year I got an Irish teacher (Boy, it took me a week to really understand her!) and that same year I had contact with a teacher from England although she taught a lower grade. In spite of everything, I can still say that my accent is American. But look at it this way: there are many different accents inside the US and everybody can understand each another. There are not really so many differences in English around the world either. That's one reason I enjoy this forum - the differences make language (and life) much more interesting.
 
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CuriousT

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Susie Smith said:
Good question! I'm an American who was partly brought up in Brazil and partly in the US. We always spoke English at home (my folks are from Nebraska and South Dakota) and I always went to American schools here in Brazil or in the US. I never attended Brazilian schools. Usually the teachers here in Brazil were Americans but one year I got an Irish teacher (Boy, it took me a week to really understand her!) and that same year I had contact with a teacher from England although she taught a lower grade. In spite of everything, I can still say that my accent is American. But look at it this way: there are many different accents inside the US and everybody can understand each another. There are not really so many differences in English around the world either. That's one reason I enjoy this forum - the differences make language (and life) much more interesting.

Wow! You've had quite an experience! 8)
Thank you for letting me know.

CuriousT
 
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