Make Your Editor Cry: Except, Accept, Expect

Make Your Editor Cry: Except, Accept, Expect

The words “except, accept, expect” have absolutely no senses in common. To except is to take or leave out from a number or a whole, as in to exclude. To accept is nearly the opposite and means to willingly receive something offered, which has nothing to do with excluding or making exceptions. To expect is to anticipate or look forward to the coming or occurrence of something which has nothing to do with either of the other two words.

Even so, we often see sentences in modern text that misuse these words entirely.

Incorrect:

John excepted to expect delivery of the package before noon, which was fine, accept that no one would be home between ten and eleven that morning.

These words properly used would make this sentence read as follows.

Correct:

John expected to accept delivery of the package before noon, which was fine, except that no one would be home between ten and eleven that morning.

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