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  1. When I got in, there were four people in the room, besides me.
  2. When I got in, there were four people in the room, except me.

Are both examples above saying that there are five people?

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I won't say they are used interchangeably in your sentence. Although "except" means "excluding / not including", its usage here is not suitable as you seem to exclude yourself from the group of people who are in the room rather than including yourself in the counting or not.

"Besides" usage is correct. It means "in addition to", and the count will be five as a total (including you).

But in either choice, the comma shouldn't be presented.

When I got in, there were four people in the room besides me.

If you want an alternative for "except", I suggest you use "other than":

When I got in, there were four people in the room other than me.

And the count here will also be five (including you).

  • Thanks for this lucid answer. Can I ask if the following one is correct: When I got in, there were four people if except me. – tiaotiao May 20 at 4:44
  • You're welcome. No, this one is not correct, but if you provided what you want to convey by it, I would suggest an alternative. – Tasneem ZH May 20 at 5:36
  • But if I insist on using "except" in a sentence which means that there were four people in the room if you don't count me in, what can I say? "There were four people in the room if I could be excepted."? – tiaotiao May 20 at 16:00
  • "Except" would make you an exception in the situation you are in (which is counting people in the room), it would indicate that you make a special case rather than excluding yourself from the counting procedure. – Tasneem ZH May 20 at 17:45
  • If I would use it properly, I have to change the structure of your sentence in order to exclude you from the counting only, I would say: "The counting excluded all the people in the house except the ones in this room who were four individuals." (here it would indicate that you were in another room) or "Except for my presence in the room, the counting included all the people there, and they were four." (this would fit your case) – Tasneem ZH May 20 at 17:45

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