Except vs Except for: Confusing English Vocabulary Lesson

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I have no other pets except for Happy. She’s a great dog, and now she’s fourteen and a half years old. She’s in good health, except for a few missing teeth and her new love for sleeping. She sleeps most of the day, except to eat and go for a walk.

For this English lesson, I want to show you the difference between except and except for. Have a look at the paragraph above and then check out the lesson.

Except means “not including” or “besides.” You can use either except or except for as a conjunction to introduce a clause containing the only thing that was not included in the main part of a sentence:

  • Everybody came to the party, except / except for Serena.
  • He ate everything on the plate, except / except for the peas.
  • I have no free time in my schedule, except / except for two hours on Friday afternoon.

You can use except for (but not except) when you want to show that the statement in the main part of the sentence is not exactly true:

  • My vacation in Paris was great, except for the rain. Actually, the rain made my vacation not great.
  • I finished cleaning the whole house, except for the bathroom. Actually, since I didn’t clean the bathroom yet, I haven’t finished cleaning the whole house.
  • We drank all the liquor at the party, except for one bottle of champagne. We actually didn’t drink all of the liquor, because one bottle of champagne remained.

You can use except (but not except for) followed by a few different grammatical patterns:

  1. Use except + an infinitive:
    1. I never go to the mall, except to shop for Christmas presents.
    2. Steve rarely goes to Manhattan, except to see his doctor.
  2. Use except + a base verb:
    1. Happy does nothing all day except sleep and eat.
    2. These days I don’t do anything except work in the office.
  3. Use except + a preposition:
    1. There are no good Thai restaurants except in Manhattan.
    2. You can’t buy those spices anywhere except at an Indian grocery store.
  4. Use except + that + subject + verb
    1. Bob is a good employee, except that he comes to work late a lot.
    2. New York is a great place to live, except that it is cold in the winter.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!