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Hi all,

I am a Japanese and not a native speaker of English.
I have a question about usage of these words.
After looking them into in some dictionaries, I have found that I can use both 'except' and 'except for' as prepositions.
And then, I picked up some examples.

1.'I wouldn't have accepted anything except a job in Europe ...'
2.'I don't take any drugs whatever, aspirin for colds ...'
3.'Children who take exams early will be allowed to drop a subject except in the case of maths, English and science.'
4.'Our group except me was admitted to the bar.'
5.'He hadn't eaten a thing except for one forkful of salad ...'
6.'Everyone was late, except for Richard.'

Though I collected some examples, I don't understand in what kind of cases I should use 'except', not 'except for'.
To tell the truth, I asked a native English speaker this question, but he just said, "It depends on the sense as a native".

Please tell me the difference of the usage.
Thanks,

Yoko
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Comments  
Hi Yoko,
Nice to meet you.

In answer to your question, I think they are interchangeable - unless there is already another preposition following 'except' (as in your example 3)

3.'Children who take exams early will be allowed to drop a subject except in the case of maths, English and science.'
ALTERNATIVE;
3.'Children who take exams early will be allowed to drop a subject except for maths, English and science.'

But please note that the example I have given doesn't really 'flow'well. Also note that in most (if not all) cases 'for' is unnecessary.

Maybe there are others out there better at grammar than I who would like to comment.

I hope this helps.
By the way, which part of Japan are you in? I am in Ueda City, Nagano.

Cheers
Hello Mike,

Thank you for advising as to the usage.
I live in Fukushima prefecture and go to an certain English school.

This topic was discussed in my class, of course involving a native teacher, but we couldn't find a specific answer.
I will share your idea with my classmates.

I'm really thankful to you, but let me ask you again to understand properly.

A native speaker told that:
'The bus was empty except for me.' is Ok, but 'The bus was empty except me.' sounds strange,
and
'Everyone is ready except him.' is OK, but 'Everyone is ready except for him' sounds strange.

Would you please tell me why native speakers feel strange about these sentences?

Regards,
Yoko
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I would suggest that 4 sounds clumsy.

Perhaps All but me were accepted..........

A suggestion
Hi Yoko,

Well done ... you found a good example in which they are NOT interchangeable!! So please do not be too quick to share my (flawed) theory with your classmates!!

I think "the bus was empty except for me' may actually be wrong too.
Maybe it should be "The bus was empty, apart from me".

I have a feeling there may also be considerable differences in usage of 'except for' between American English and British Standard English.

Maybe someone else can explain this simply.

Cheers (for the time being).
Hello,

Thank you for your replies, Mike and David!

I know that languages are always changing, and there might be some theories,
so I'm really looking forward to replies from lots of people, regardless of their native languages.

Please tell me a variety of the cases, usages, and interpretations.
I also continue to search it by using books, googling up, asking others and so on.

Thanks,
Yoko
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Hi Yoko,
After some investigation I was able to get some good advice.

..........................................................................................................................................

'Curious T' wrote;

Since I'm not a native speaker, I have to rely on what I've read or what I've been told somewhere. But this might work for you.

I think except for when it modifies a noun can be replaced by except, but except for when it doesn't modify a particular noun cannot.

Consider:
(1) The room was entirely empty except for Morris. (adapted from COBUILD English Usage)
(2) Everyone was gone except for me. (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary)

In (1), except for Morris does not have any noun to modify within the sentence. Notice it cannot modify the room because the room except Morris doesn't make sense. It, rather, modifies the proposition, i.e., the room was entirely empty.

In (2), on the other hand, except for me does have a noun to modify, i.e., everyone, because everyone except me makes sense here. (Incidentally, note also that, right after the noun it modifies, except works, but not except for.)

I imagine you can use except in place of except for in (2), but not in (1). Your example is a case similar to (1).
.........................................................................................................................................

'Susie Smith' wrote;

When "except" means the same as "but", you can use either "except" or "except for".

Everybody is asleep except for Mary. OR Everybody is asleep except Mary. OR Everybody is asleep but Mary.

BUT

The bus was empty except for me. does NOT mean the same as
The bus was empty but me.

There was nobody on the bus but me. OR There was nobody on the bus except for me. OR There was nobody on the bus except me.
.........................................................................................................................................

Great thanks to Curious T and Susie Smith for their help with this question.
Hello again, Mike,

I've known your site, and I even have been a registered member! Emotion: smile

I got curious about what the difference is between British and American English, after reading the postings here. So can I ask you a quick follow-up question? (Sorry, Yoko, for interrupting you.)

Do you accept (2) in my message?
(2) Everyone was gone except for me.

If you do, you and Susie have a different judgment from Yoko's teacher, who said:
'Everyone is ready except him.' is OK, but 'Everyone is ready except for him' sounds strange.

Judging from how you greet, I guess you are British. Am I right?

Yoko, how about your teacher? Where does he/she come from?

I wonder where Susie is originally from.... I'll ask her.

CuriousT
Mike,

I've just found out from your website that you are from Australia. So Aussies use "Cheers" too? Do you find Australian English closer to British English or American English or neither?

CuriousT
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