Today I’m going to teach you three very similar and confusing words in English. They are: 1. Expect, 2. Except and 3. Accept.
As a matter of fact, these three words are very different from one other. They just look similar to students because of their spelling and pronunciation.
Aside from these, they are definitely and completely different. Especially if you check their meanings.
“Expect” has two meanings. The first (A) is to “hope for” and the second (B) is to “guess” or “predict.”
A. Expect (Hope for) = When you “expect” something, it means that you have the feeling or desire to have or get something. Or for a situation to come true.
For example, if a child’s birthday is just around the corner, the child feels excited for the event. With his imagination, he starts to want certain things to happen. He wants to receive many gifts, to have a big party and a big cake, and to eat his favorite food.
All of these are what we call the child’s “expectations” (Noun).
This is why if the parents of the child somehow fail to give the child what he “expects,” the child will feel disappointed.
In fact, the two words “expectation” and “disappointment” (Noun) are closely connected to each other.
There’s a saying in English: “The person who doesn’t expect anything doesn’t get disappointed.”
The saying above can have two different meanings depending on the person who reads it. First, don’t expect too much so you won’t get disappointed. Be realistic or be practical. Or don’t set your expectation too high for the common standard. This way, you can avoid feeling bad later.
On the other hand, some people might say that to expect is a big part of human life. So if you don’t expect anything in your life, you aren’t normal and your life might become boring and you feel no hope at all.
It’s up to you whether you will take this English saying positively or negatively.
Anyway, I should tell you that this Vocabulary (“Expect,” Verb) is commonly used in this structure:
Expect + to + V (=Hope)
1. He expects to get a big toy car for Christmas.
2. Don’t expect to win.
3. She expects him to propose soon.
Another structure is possible, but for you as a student, it’s better and more effective to follow the sentences above.
B. Expect (Guess/ Predict) = This is the second meaning of the word “expect.” And it’s different from the first.
It means that, according to the situation now or some other conditions (schedule, agreement, appointment etc.), you can safely assume what will happen in the Future.
1. I expect (that) she's already home so I'll give her a call right now.
2. I expect (that) it will also rain tomorrow.
3. She expects (that) the town has changed a lot.
As you can see from the examples above, the people are in the Present, but they can guess situations in the Future because of some things they know.
Also, pay attention to the structure that we are using here. This time, our structure is:
Expect that S + V = (Guess)
Again, this isn’t always the case. But if you practice this way, it’s easier for you to use "expect."
Now we come to the second part of our topic. Please note that “except” is not the same spelling as our first word “expect.” And their meanings are very different so they are perfectly different Vocabulary.
I hope you’ll try to remember each of them separately and not mix them up. Try not to get confused.
Unlike “Expect,” “Except” isn’t a Verb. It’s a Preposition.
It means “but not.”
1. I like all kinds of fruit except bananas.
2. Everybody went to the game except him.
3. She brought everything she needed except a toothbrush.
NOTE: There’s another kind of “Except” which is “Except for.” But this is a different topic and we’ll try to discuss this some other time ;-)
Finally, we come to the third part of our topic, “Accept.”
Unlike “Except” (Preposition), “Accept” is a Verb. It’s important for you to remember this difference.
“Accept” has quite the opposite meaning too.
If “Except” means not including or not together, “Accept” means to include or to let join.
Everybody went to the club except him. (Preposition, but not him)
We finally accepted him as a member. (Verb, welcome)
I can eat all kinds of food except snake meat. (Preposition, but not snake meat)
I’ll accept his proposal. (Verb, not reject)
As a kind of summary, you can say: "You can expect a lot of wonderful things to come to your life, except a million dollars from lottery. Just accept that you have to work hard till you grow old." ;-)
Hope you remember the difference between these 3 very tricky words. Please try and practice them! Good luck!!