Accept, except and expect look and sound quite similar, so they are commonly mixed up in speech and writing. However, the words have very different meanings and there are no cases in English when they should be used interchangeably.
Accept is always used as a verb, primarily meaning to agreeto take something (like a job or gift).
Except is normally used as a preposition, meaning but, or as a conjunction, meaning with the omission of or only.
Expect is almost always used as a verb, primarily meaning to believe something will happen.
When to Use Accept + Examples
Accept is a verb. We normally use it to indicate that we agree, or we agree to take something. Remember, as it’s a verb, accept is subject to conjugation.
I accepted the job with McDonalds for the summer.
Sally acceptsthe gift from the children and thanks them for remembering her birthday.
They do not acceptcredit cards in their stores.
You should accept my apology.
We are not accepting any more guests in the hotel tonight.
Accept can also mean to believe something is true.
We accept what you say is the truth.
The police will not accept such a wild explanation.
Accept can also mean to approve of something.
Misogynists are not accepted in society.
This publication does not accept late submissions!
My grandparents never accepted my boyfriend because he had long hair and a tattoo!
When to Use Except + Examples
Except is frequently used as a preposition, meaning but.
Everyone will be there at the party except James and John.
All months have 30 or more days except February, which has 28.
I like all cheeses except brie and cheddar.
Except can also be used as a conjunction, meaning with the exception of, only or not including. In the case of a conjunction, except is often followed by that.
I didn’t know anything about life at that point, except that I loved my mother.
What can you say, except that it was a boring movie that didn’t live up to the publicity?
In rare circumstances, except can be used as a verb, meaning to exclude or to exempt:
Any girls and boys with asthma are excepted from this program.
The congressman will vote to except Hawaii and Alaska from this law.
When to Use Expect + Examples
Expect is a verb. We normally use it to indicate we believe something will happen or to think. Remember, as it’s a verb, expect is subject to conjugation.
With his new car, Danny expects to have a new girlfriend by the summer.
You should not expectany more arrivals. We expected everyone to arrive by now.
This is the fourth school that kicked you out. We were expecting more from you, Ryan.
Since it was already dark, I expect that means he won’t be coming for dinner.
Expect(ing) can also mean to be pregnant or have a baby due.
It’s clear that Elena is expecting a baby.
Annie and Fernando are expecting their third child.
How to Remember the Difference Between Accept, Except and Expect
As you have seen above, accept, except and expect have very different meanings. Yet, the words have similar sounds and spellings, so how do we remember the difference? Most grammar guides will point to the difference between accept and except, suggesting you remember the exc in except as it also means exclude, as that word has the same first three letters. Others also suggest that you focus on the a in accept, as it is related to the word agree. Unfortunately, the words are so similar in spelling and pronunciation, it might take a bit of practice to remember which word to use.
Here are some more examples of accept, expect and except
You never accepted me as a friend.
I expect it to rain tomorrow.
They play football every day except for Sundays.
You are not going to accept my resignation?
Please accept my apology!
The Fed expects to raise interest rates in the fall.
That sounds fair, except that you didn’t feel that way yesterday.