Except vs Exempt: Difference and Comparison

Except and exempt are homophones which are misinterpreted mainly by most people. The meaning of these terms is based on the idea of ‘exclusion’ but differ from each other in the aspect of what kind of exclusion one is talking about.

Except is the term which is not followed by any preordained rules and customs exempt means to be free from the state of liability, regulations, and norms.

Key Takeaways

  1. Except is a preposition or conjunction used to indicate exclusion or exception; exempt is an adjective or verb free from an obligation, duty, or liability.
  2. Except is used to show that something does not apply to a specific item or group; exempt indicates that an individual or entity is not subject to a particular rule or requirement.
  3. Both except and exempt involve exclusion, but except identifies excluded items or circumstances, while exempt describes freedom from obligation or liability.

Except vs Exempt

The difference between except and exempt is that except means to be excluded from a group or a category or simply not including, whereas exempt means to free (an organization or a person) from pre-imposed rules and obligations.

Except vs

 Let us understand it more clearly with the help of an example: The tuition fees to school cost $20,000. Now,


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  1. If you can’t afford to pay the entire fees, the school gives you an ‘exception’ of financial aid and lets you pay only $10,000 (here you are not exempted because you are paying something)
  2. If you are a child of a teacher teaching in the same school, then the school ‘exempts’ you from paying any fees and lets you study without any payment of fees.

The following illustrations can better understand the two words:                                                                                            


Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonExceptExempt
DefinitionExcept exclude a person from the group or a category by simply not including.Exempt is to free a person from any position of liabilities and norms.
RulesThe word is not associated with any pre-defined notions of rules and obligations.The term is associated with the predefined notions of rules and obligations from which one is exempted.
Examples·      Everybody must fill out the online forms except the ones from the administration department.

·      The magazine will be delivered every day except for Sundays.
·      The school has exempted underprivileged students from paying fees for this session.

·      He was exempted from serving in forces.
SynonymsThe word replacements can be Excluding, omitting, barring, passing over, etc.The word replacements are spared, free from, discharged, absolved, etc
ConnotationsThe word can be used with both positive and negative connotationsMost of the time, the word is used as a flavour or with negative connotations.


What is Except?

Except is the word that excludes a person from any group or category. Any assumed rules and regulations do not govern the word, i.e. anything/anyone being banned does not form part of the structures governed by regulations.

Except when used as

A verb means- to exclude from a specified category. Example – I must accept your remark that there are no great artists today.   

 A preposition means- to not include/other than. Example – You will have to work out every day except Sunday

Conjunction means – a statement that makes an exception to one aforementioned. For example – I can take everything except tolerating violence.

Some of the synonyms that can be used as word replacements are: excluding, omitting, barring, pass over, besides, etc. Therefore, one should not be confused with this word as varied forms of exclusion and remember that we use this word largely when the norms and regulations do not govern things.

except 1

What is Exempt?

Exempt frees a person/organization from any sense of obligations and norms. The word is considered with the idea of assumed rules and regulations, i.e. anything/anyone being excluded forms part of the structures governed by rules.

Exempt can be used as

A verb – to free (person/organization) from the existing rules 

For example – the students were exempted from restrictions that day.

 An adjective– to be free from obligations imposed on others

Example – The patients in the hospital were exempted from charges.

A noun – a person exempted from something, especially taxes.

Some synonyms that can be used as word replacements are free from, spared, discharged, absolves, etc. This word, therefore, denotes varied forms of exclusion and is used when things are governed by norms and obliged structures.

Main Differences Between Except and Exempt

  1. Except excludes a person or any organization from the mainstream group or category not entailed by rules. In contrast, the exemption is used to exclude people from the position of responsibility and status.
  2. The word except is not associated with the pre-existing notions of rules and obligations to others, whereas the existing background of rules and norms determines exemption.
  3. Except means not included in the group, whereas exempt means to free someone of their ongoing duties, tasks, etc.
  4. Except can be used with positive and negative connotations, whereas exempt is used primarily as a favour and with negative connotations.
  5. Words that can replace except are excluding, omitting, barring, etc whereas words that can explain the word exempt better are spared from, free, discharged, etc.
Difference Between Except and

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/except
  2. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/exempt
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