Difference Between Except and Exempt

Except and exempt are homophones which are mostly misinterpreted 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, rules, and norms.

Except vs Exempt

The main 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 a set of 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,

  1. If you can’t afford to pay the entire fees, the school gives you ‘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 the teacher teaching in the same school then school ‘exempts’ you from paying any fees and lets you study without any payment of fees.

The two words can be better understood by the following illustrations:                                                                                            


Comparison Table Between Except and Exempt (in Tabular Form)

Parameters of ComparisonExceptExempt
DefinitionExcept is to 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 kind of pre-defined notions of rules and obligations.The word is associated with the predefined notions of rules and obligations from where one is exempted.
Examples·      Everybody is required to fill 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, pass over, etcThe word replacements are spared, free from, discharged, absolved, etc
ConnotationsThe word can be used with both positive and negative connotationsMost of the times the word is used as a favor or with negative connotations.


What is Except?

Except is the word used to leave out a person from any group or category. The word is not governed with any kind of assumed rules and regulations i.e. anything/anyone that is being excluded does not form part of the structures governed by rules.

Except when used as

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

 A preposition it 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. Example – I can take everything, except for tolerating violence.

Some of the synonyms that can be used as the word replacements are: excluding, omitting, barring, pass over, besides, etc. One should therefore not be confused this word as varied forms exclusion and also remember that we use this word largely when things are not governed by the norms and regulations.

except 1

What is Exempt?

Exempt is the word used to free 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 that is 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 

Example – the students were exempted from all kinds of restrictions that day.

 An adjective– to free from obligations imposed on others

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

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

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

Main Differences Between Except and Exempt

  1. Except is used to exclude a person or any organization from the mainstream group or category that is not entailed by rules whereas exempt 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 exempt is determined by the existing background of rules and norms.
  3. Except means simply not included in the group whereas exempt means to free someone of their ongoing duties, tasks, etc.
  4. Except can be used with both positive and negative connotations whereas exempt is mostly used as a favor 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



The similar-looking words with different meanings are called homophones and the word except and exempt are part of the same. These are often misinterpreted words because of their almost the same spellings.

Except is the word which is used to determine exclusion or simply the act of not including but is not determined by the pre-existing notions of obligations to others or rules. Exempt is used to free someone from the position of responsibility and power.

These words cannot be used interchangeably because the former is not governed with the set of existing rules whereas the latter is solely dependent on the ideas of norms and hierarchical structures. Some of the words that explain the term ‘except’ better are pass over, excluding, etc whereas the words like spared from, pardoned, etc explain ‘exempt’ better.


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