Word Confusion: Accept vs Except vs Excerpt vs Expect

Posted October 26, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

The most common word confusion is that between accept and except.

And it is easy enough to mistype except and expect. God knows, I had to keep checking this post to make sure I had the proper juxtaposition of letters throughout!

Tricks to Distinguish Between Accept, Except, Excerpt, & Expect

There’s something about the acc- in accept that feels comfortable, accepting which goes toward its definition of receiving something. The ex- in except has a negative feel…I always think ex-spouse. Someone I’d want to exclude from memory, lol.

As for excerpt, it’s the rpt. For some reason my mind jumbles that around to part, and since excerpt is only a part of something…well, it’s a no-brainer.

As for expect…it has a waiting-ish feel to it. I feel as though I’m hovering, waiting for the rest of the word to arrive.

I accept the terms of your offer, but I wish to except the clause calling for repayment of the deposit.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Accept Except Excerpt Expect
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: expect

Head of college in a green crushed velvet robe trimmed in yellow and white wearing a yellow and grey fez with a long yellow tassel giving a woman in teal crushed velvet robe trimmed in white and wearing a blue, purple, and white scarf with a matching fez with a long white tassel accepting a diploma.

Saroshafzal’s own work [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Young woman at Wah Medical College accepting her diploma.

A funny sign of a mechanic in a burgundy uniform holding a wrench

Image courtesy of PDF Fun

This automotive garage sign cracked me up. Too bad they can’t fix the nut behind the wheel!

Blue and light green in a cropped section of a map

Image by U.S. Defense Mapping Agency Aerospace Center and in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

An excerpt from an operational navigational chart of the Torres Strait Islands, Queensland, Australia.

Side view of a pregnant tummy.

Image by Towle Neu [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

She’s expecting a baby soon.

Part of Grammar:
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: accepts
Past tense or past participle: accepted
Gerund or present participle: accepting

Conjunction 1; Preposition 2;
Verb, transitive 3

Third person present verb: excepts
Past tense or past participle: excepted
Gerund or present participle: excepting

Noun 4;
Verb, transitive 5

Noun plural & third person present verb: excerpts
Past tense or past participle: excerpted
Gerund or present participle: excerpting

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: expects
Past tense or past participle: expected
Gerund or present participle: expecting

Take what’s offered

Verb, intransitive:
Consent to receive a thing offered

  • Give an affirmative answer to an offer or proposal
  • Say yes to a proposal of marriage from a man

Verb, transitive:
Consent to receive a thing offered

  • Give an affirmative answer to an offer or proposal
  • Say yes to
  • [Dated] Say yes to a proposal of marriage from a man
  • Receive as adequate, valid, or suitable
  • Regard favorably or with approval
  • Welcome
  • [Of a thing] Be designed to allow something to be inserted or applied

Believe or come to recognize an opinion, explanation, etc., as valid or correct

  • Take upon oneself a responsibility or liability
  • Acknowledge
  • Tolerate or submit to something unpleasant or undesired

Used before a statement that forms an exception to one just made

  • [Archaic] Unless

Not including

Other than

Verb, transitive:
[Formal] Specify as not included in a category or group


A short extract from a film, broadcast, or piece of music or writing

Verb, transitive:
Take a short extract from a text

  • Take an excerpt or excerpts from a text
  • Select a passage for quoting

Verb, intransitive:
[Archaic] Wait


To look forward

To be pregnant

  • Await the birth of one’s child

Verb, transitive:
Regard something as likely to happen

  • Regard someone as likely to do or be something
  • Believe that someone or something will arrive soon
  • Look for something from someone as rightfully due or requisite in the circumstances
  • Require someone to fulfill an obligation
  • [Used with I expect; informal] Used to indicate that one supposes something to be so, but has no firm evidence or knowledge

[Archaic] Await

Anticipate or look forward to the coming or occurrence of

Verb, intransitive:
Tim offered Brian a lift home and he accepted.

Verb, transitive:
He accepted a pen as a present.

He would accept their offer and see what happened.

Ronald is a good match and she ought to accept him.

The college accepted her as a student.

Credit cards are widely accepted.

The Harvard literati never accepted him as one of them.

Vending machines that accepted 100-yen coins for cans of beer are few and far between.

This tentative explanation came to be accepted by the group.

It is accepted that aging is a continuous process.

Jenkins is willing to accept his responsibility.

He accepts that he made a mistake.

They accepted the need to cut expenses.

I didn’t tell him anything, except that I needed the money.

Our berets were the same except mine had a leather band inside.

She never offered advice, except it were asked of her.

You will languish in Hell except you repent.

The town of Hilarity was inaccessible except by boat.

I would go except that you’ll be gone longer than I can be away.

I was naked except for my socks.

They work every day except Sunday.

We get the paper daily except Sundays.

The stores are open daily except the major holidays.

Verb, transitive:
He excepted from his criticism a handful of distinguished writers.

Triskell put together an excerpt of the story.

This is an excerpt of the whole.

Just read the excerpt. It’ll give you an idea of what it’s about.

Verb, transitive:
The notes are excerpted from his forthcoming biography.

Verb, intransitive:
She’s expecting next month.

Verb, transitive:
We expect the best.

He expects the stock market to sink further.

He expect that farmers will harvest 63 million acres of hay.

They were not expecting him to continue.

Celia was expecting a visitor.

We expect great things of you.

We expect employers to pay a reasonable salary.

They’re just friends of his, I expect.

I expect you know them?

Mary is expecting a baby.

It’s only to be expected. You know her mama…

What can you expect?

We were expecting them any minute now.

I had expected the cab to be here by now.

Adjective: accepted
Adverb: acceptedly

Noun: acceptation, accepter
Verb: preaccept
Verb, transitive: reaccept
Adverb: unexceptionably
Adjective: exceptionable, exceptional, unexceptionable, unexceptional
Noun: exception, exceptionality, unexceptionableness
Adjective: excerptible
Noun: excerption, excerpter, excerptor
Adjective: expectable, unexpected
Adverb: expectably, expectedly, unexpectedly
Noun: expectedness, unexpectedness
History of the Word:
First known use: 14th century

Late Middle English from the Latin acceptare, an iterative of accipere meaning take something to oneself, from ad- (to) + capere (take).

1 First known use: 15th century

2 First known use: 14th century

3 Late Middle English from the Latin except- meaning taken out, from the verb excipere, from ex- (out of) + capere (take).

4 First known use: 1627

5 Mid-16th century from the Latin excerpt- meaning plucked out, from the verb excerpere, from ex- (out of) + carpere (to pluck).

First known use was in 1560 and based on the sense defer action or wait from the Latin exspectare meaning look out for, from ex- (out) + spectare (to look) (iterative of specere meaning see).

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?