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Except vs. Without

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Common mistakes

  1. (NG) I like to drink coffee except milk.
    1. (OK) I like to drink coffee without milk.
  2. (NG) Without Jack, everyone in the office plays golf.
    1. (OK) Except Jack, everyone in the office plays golf.

Grammar words and phrases in context

I like fruit. I didn’t eat much fruit when I was a kid, but now, as an adult, I feel it’s important. For me, a day without fruit is like a day without air, so I eat at least one piece of fruit a day. I like all kinds of fruit, except kiwi. The taste is ok, but there is something about the texture I don’t like.

Without

Without means not having, not including, not adding, and not putting. We can use without plus a noun. For example:

  • I like to drink coffee without milk.
  • Without Jack, we can’t start the meeting.
  • Can you read that book without a dictionary?

 

We can also use without plus a gerund (verb + ING) For example:

  • Jack can’t make any important decisions without asking his wife.
  • I won’t start eating without washing my hands.
  • Jenny left the office without saying anything. I wonder why.

Except

Except means not including a member of a group. You can use except or except for. Here are some examples:

  • Except for Jack, everyone in the office plays golf. Jack is part of everyone in the office, and he is the only person in this group that doesn’t play golf.
  • I like all kinds of fruit except for kiwi. Kiwi is part of the group of fruit and because kiwi is the one fruit that I don’t like, I can say, I like all kinds of fruit except for kiwi.
  • Except science fiction, I like all kinds of movies.

Key Point

[x_icon type=”check”] When we use except, we talk about excluding one member or one part of a group.

[x_icon type=”check”] When we use without, we talk about not including something that is outside of any group.

  • We played golf without Jack.
  • Everyone played golf except Jack.

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