Accepting the Exceptional
“My son,” wrote the proud mother, “was excepted…” Her Facebook post went on to share her joy that her child was chosen to participate in an event for children like her son who have lost a limb. No doubt, her son is exceptional. But the correct term to describe her son’s selection, is accepted. Accept is always a verb meaning “to receive” (as a gift or promotion), agree to or believe (accept the decision of the judge), or to take responsibility (accept the duties of office).
Except can be used as a verb, a preposition or a conjunction. The verb except means to exempt, omit, or exclude. That is actually what mom’s post means as written. Her son was excluded from the group. But, in fact, just the opposite occurred.
As a preposition, except means other than. “Everyone except my son was accepted for the class.”
The conjunction has several meanings, including “only,” “unless,” “for anything but.” “I will do anything except eat frog legs.”
The confusion over whether to use accept or except occurs when except is used as a verb. To self-edit or check your work, replace the word with receive or agree. If mom had done that, we would have “liked” her post and shared her delight in her son’s acceptance into a group of exceptional young people.