Common Mistake: Accept or Except?

Does your favorite restaurant accept American Express? Do you like every season except winter? Did you know that US vending machines accept coins except pennies, half dollars and silver dollars? Accept or except? What's the difference?

The similarity of these words confuses English language learners, confuses native English speakers and even confuses Alex –– the system voice on my Mac.

In this post, I'm going to show you how to pronounce and use accept and except.

Accept & Except – Pronunciation


The first syllable in accept is pronounced /ək/. The /ək/ sound is the same as acknowledge and accessory. The second syllable is pronounced /sɛpt/.

The first syllable in except is pronounced /ɪk/. The /ɪk/ sound is the same as exclude, excel and export. The second syllable is pronounced /sɛpt/ and the /t/ in expect is voiced whereas the /t/ sound in accept is unvoiced.



Accept: verb [with object]

1. To receive something willingly offered

  • Thank you! You did such great work! Do you accept tips?

  • In all college sports except tennis, student-athletes can accept prize money.

2. To agree or give consent

  • Both sides accepted the terms to the cease-fire.

  • Please accept my apology. It was my fault.

3. To respond or answer affirmatively

  • Barry offered Sam a ride home, and he accepted.

  • Sally accepted Bob's proposal. They're getting married!

4. To undertake responsibilities, duties, honors, etc.

  • I've accepted a position at ABC Company as the new CFO.

  • She proudly accepted the nomination for the Democratic Party.

5. To be formally admitted to a college or club

  • I got accepted to Emory University with a full ride scholarship!

  • Harvard only accepts about 5% of applicants. Nearly 95% get rejected.

6. To accomodate or reconcile oneself

  • The first verse of the Serenity Prayer begins, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change."

  • I just have to accept the situation. I'll find another job.

7. To acknowledge something as true

  • My boss refused to accept my resignation. He asked me to reconsider leaving.

  • Surprisingly, the judge accepted the defendant's argument for parking illegally.

8. To acknowledge something as normal

  • Credit cards are accepted everywhere in the United States.

  • The freemium model is now widely accepted on iOS and Android app stores.

9. To take a payment

  • I'm sorry, we don't accept personal checks. Cash or credit only.

  • Do you accept American Express? I don't have another credit card.

10. To receive a transplanted organ or tissue

  • If you’re willing to accept a transplant, would you be willing to become a donor?

  • His immune system has accepted the transplant. Everything appears normal!



1. Excluded / Left out (preposition)

  • Everyone did well on the test except me. I’m not good at math.

  • Everybody's going to the movie except Simon. He's working late.

2. But not / Other than (conjunction)

  • We're open every day, except Sundays.

  • The doorman never said anything, except for hello and goodbye.

3. To exclude (verb [with object]) (formal)

  • Evidence that is not properly submitted will be excepted from the ruling.

  • Anyone under 18 years of age is excepted from participating.

4. Someone or something that prevents a statement from being true (idiom)

  • I haven't eaten anything all day except a bowl of oatmeal.

  • I wake up at 7:00 am every day except for Sundays.

5. A general criticism that excludes a one or more people who are present (idiom)

  • I don't trust lawyers – present company excepted, of course.

  • People, present company excepted, need to eat healthier.


You just learned how to pronounce accept and except and the correct usage of both words. Try writing 2 sentences with accept and 2 sentences with except, then read them aloud. Refer to this post to compare your pronunciation and example sentences. You've got this!

What similar-sounding English words are confusing for you? Answer in the Comments below.

Common Mistake: Accept or Except? first appeared on the Culture Gaps Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.


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Jeff Shibasaki blogs about effective communication skills for the USA at Culture Gaps and healthy web design for unhealthy websites at Bento Sites.