Accept vs. except and the addling of fast-talking ads

Garage sale ad that says, "Only cash will be excepted."

It has been an exceptional week for those of us who own dictionaries.

For people placing classified ads and putting signs in store windows, it has apparently been an “acceptional” week.

No, “acceptional” isn’t a word, although that might be the best way to describe people who write that they won’t “except” checks or won’t “except” additional inventory.Store sign that says, "We are not excepting any more item as we are closing."

A little background: “Except,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, came to English from Latin and French. The prefix “ex-” in this case means “out,” and the word “except” means to take out or leave out.

“Excepted” is a legitimate, though rare, verb, as in “He excepted garage sale ads from his list of well-written prose” or “present company excepted.” blames the confusion between “accept” and “except” on the similar sounds of the words. Interestingly, it also cites rapid speech as a contributor to the confusion. Apparently people who place classified ads and write door signs are fast talkers. Or they are “acceptional.” Take your pick.

Think about the difference this way: When “ex-” is involved, things are either left out (except) or they stand out (exceptional).

When “ac-” (from the Latin “ad-“) is involved, things are coming in or being embraced (accepted).

As always, slow down and think. You really don’t want to become “acceptional.”

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