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Expressing Exception

In one of our past issues we learnt about addition but we haven't considered expressing exception so far, so this could be the best point for discussion in this lesson.

Exception is the opposite of addition, indicating a ‘subtraction’ from a total. We express it by using a number of prepositions, such as: ‘except’, ‘except for’, ‘apart from’, ‘bar’, ‘but’.

A few examples are:

“None of the boys knew her secret except Tommy.

“The journey was quite pleasant, apart from the weather.

“They ate everything there was in the fridge, but the eggs.

“They ate everything there was in the fridge, bar the eggs.

If the exception is expressed in a sentence/clause, then we need to use the conjunction 'except that':

“The journey was quite pleasant, except that the weather was too hot.

Otherwise and else are adverbs of exception:

“The young girls were lying a lot, but otherwise (= ‘apart from that’) they were quite polite.”

“The last exercise was too difficult, but we finished everything else in time. (= ‘apart from that’)

The adverb even expresses the negation of exception, normally with an effect of surprise and emphasis:

“They stole everything - even the clothes in the wardrobe!” (‘not excepting the clothes in the wardrobe’)

However, be very careful, as even is also closely related to the notion of addition: “He can speak several languages; he even claims to speak Chinese (‘that, as well as all the others’). 

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