'Accept' vs 'Except': What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 24, 2023

You might have heard both ‘accept’ and ‘except’ in conversation or seen them in something you read. So, what’s the difference between these words? We’ll go over that in detail in this article, plus teach you how to use both words in a sentence correctly. You’ll also learn the correct pronunciation.

Need a quick answer? Here it is:

  • ‘Accept’ is a transitive verb that means allow, approve someone or something, or willingly receive something.
  • ‘Except’ is mostly used as a preposition that means excluding or apart from.

These words are clearly not homophones because while they sound exactly the same when you say them out loud, they mean two different things. That means you shouldn’t use them interchangeably.

‘Accept’ vs. ‘Except’ – Differences & Example Sentences

The words ‘accept’ and ‘except’ sound the same but have different definitions, making them homophones.

The former means to allow or approve something. It could also mean willingly receiving something.

For example, you might hear someone say:

 ‘I can’t accept this gift from you.’

That means they’ve done the opposite of the word’s meaning. It’s usually because the gift is too lavish or expensive.

The latter means excluding or apart from.

For example, you might hear someone say:

‘Let’s invite everyone except Jill. She’s such a crybaby.’

In this case, Jill is the one being excluded.

When to Use ‘Accept’ vs. ‘Except’  

If you’re unsure when to use each, this guide can help.

Use ‘accept’ when you’re talking about receiving something or when you’re talking about the approval of something or someone.

For example, you might have heard someone say:

  • They’ve been accepted into their top college.

Use ‘except’ when you’re talking about someone or something being excluded or when something is apart from something else.

For example, you might hear someone say:

  • ‘We can get everything except the folding chairs. Someone else is going to have to get them.’

Definition of ‘Accept’: What Does ‘Accept’ Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘accept’ as:

  • To receive (something offered) willingly.

It also means:

  • To be able or designed to take or hold (something applied or added)
  • To give admittance or approval to
  • To endure without protest or reaction
  • To regard as proper, normal, or inevitable
  • To recognize as true (believe)
  • To make a favorable response to
  • To agree to undertake (a responsibility)
  • To assume an obligation to pay
  • To take in payment
  • To receive (a legislative report) officially
  • To receive favorably something offered (usually used with of)

Definition of ‘Except’: What Does ‘Except’ Mean?

The same dictionary defines ‘except’ as:

  • The exclusion or exception of.

It can also mean:

  • To take or leave out from a number or a whole (exclude)
  • To take exception (object)
  • On any other condition than that (unless)
  • With this exception, namely
  • Only (often followed by that)

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Apart from
  • Barring
  • But
  • Exclusive of
  • Outside of
  • Abide from
  • Beside
  • Except for
  • Other than
  • Save
  • Bar
  • Besides
  • Excluding
  • Outside
  • Saving
  • Demur
  • Object
  • Only
  • Yet

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Accept’ and ‘Except’

Are you wondering how to pronounce these words correctly? Here’s a short guide.

To pronounce both words correctly, here’s the phonetic spelling:


How to Use ‘Accept’ and ‘Except’ in a Sentence

Now that we’ve got the meaning and pronunciation out of the way let’s look at some sentence examples.


  • I can’t accept your generous gift. I’m flattered, and I appreciate it, but I have a husband, so it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to accept this from you.
  • Were you ever going to accept my proposal? Or were you planning on leaving me hanging forever? This isn’t very professional, just so you know.
  • I finally accepted the offer to attend Princeton University. I’m so excited to be going there in the fall! There’s so much I need to do to prepare to move onto campus.
  • My niece still hasn’t accepted my friend request on Facebook. What do you think that means? Is she embarrassed by me?
  • What are you doing? We can’t accept another student into the program. We’re already at full capacity for the semester, Leann.


  • The doctors say there’s not much we can do for her at this point except pray for a miracle. I can’t believe my only child was in such a terrible accident.
  • Every king that has ruled this kingdom has been successful in battle except our current king. He may need to be overthrown.
  • Every single school closed for the snowstorm today except ours. This is so not fair!
  • I’d be willing to do almost anything to make sure my child has a spot in the preschool this year, except give a donation. I understand that’ll increase my chances, but I don’t think that’s very ethical.
  • Everyone I know hates the show Girls, but I like it. Despite the lack of diversity, it’s still an interesting story, and I’m going to keep watching it.

Final Advice on ‘Accept’ and ‘Except’

To recap, we learned that:

  • ‘Accept’ is a transitive verb that means to allow, approve someone or something, or willingly receive something.
  • ‘Except’ is generally used as a preposition, and it means apart from or excluding.

‘Accept’ and ‘except’ are clearly not homophones because they sound exactly the same when you say them out loud, but they mean two different things. Therefore, you shouldn’t use them interchangeably.

If you ever get stuck on meaning or usage, feel free to come back to review what you learned. We’ve got a whole library of content on confusing words and phrases. Go check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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