Should I use "except for" or "except" in my sentence?

"There are three additional cottages in the yard. Except the main house tourists can stay in any of them."

I found a similar example like mine: "They all came except Matt." https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/except_1?q=Except

And in this discussion as well: "Everyone except John likes the movie." https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/excluding-except-john.1188027/

1 Answer 1


The question is a subtle one and the answer is not simple.

It appears to depend largely on the positioning of except in the sentence, whether a noun precedes or follows it, and how it's being used (preposition, conjunction,).

Grammar Today says: Both "except" and "except for" are correct after a noun:

Another source quotes The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English: "Except for" is required when what is excluded is different from what is included.

Similar guidance comes from Quora (below)

In your example, Except precedes the noun and the main house is different from the three cottages.

So, according to these rules, "Except for" the main house..... is required.

This also seems to me to be the idiomatic way of phrasing the sentence.

Numerous longer explanations and examples are given in the sources.

https://academic.oup.com/eltj/article-abstract/XXXV/3/260/545193?redirectedFrom=PDF https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-except-and-except-for-in-terms-of-their-usage

  • Thank you very much. Sorry, I don't understand this explanation: "Except for" is required when what is excluded is different from what is included." Could you please explain? Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 5:58
  • 1
    What is excluded is the main house; what is included is the cottages. The explanations and illustrations given in the sources will give you a better idea of the guides to the usage. Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 11:14
  • I see. Thank you! Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 11:26
  • I also have another sentence: "Except the main house, guests can stay in the little house made of bamboo." This is a little house so it's different from the main house. So again "for" is required. Am I right? Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 11:30
  • 1
    Yes, you are correct. Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 18:32

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