Can I use either "except for" or "except" in my sentence and can't I use both "used to" and "would" "anything "and "everything"?

"The baby would/used to eat everything/anything except for meat, cheese, vegetables and cream cake.

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    It's certainly not "syntactically invalid" to include for in your cited context, but as this NGram shows, native speakers / writers usually don't. Feb 4, 2022 at 15:16
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    It is also quite common to say "..would eat anything but meat, cheese ..." Feb 4, 2022 at 15:30
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    Used to implies that he/she is no longer willing to eat all those things. Feb 4, 2022 at 16:39
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    Would doesn't necessarily mean 'no longer does' - it could be used in a story to refer to someone's habitual behaviour. Yes, you could use either anything or everything. Feb 4, 2022 at 16:52
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    @AntoniaA: I never mentioned anything about the would / used to choice here. But now I'm actually thinking about it, I'd say used to is more likely than would in this exact context. That's because the latter has stronger implications of was in the habit of..., which tends to imply choice, but I imagine the baby just ate whatever it was given (i.e. - the baby was fed on..., rather than chose to eat...). But as with many of your questions about such choices, in reality there's little if any difference between the different phrasings Feb 4, 2022 at 18:57

1 Answer 1


These choices don't affect each other.

  • You could choose either would or used to, with significant changes in meaning as mentioned by Kate. Used to clearly communicates a past that is no longer true. This might be because the baby now eats differently, or we sometimes use this language when recalling a past so long ago that the actions in it are disconnected from present reality. "Oh look, here's a picture of you as a baby! You used to eat everything..." Or if the subject no longer exists: "My grandad used to eat peas until the day he died." Would can have various meanings, but it's also a past tense of will, so it could bring in a connotation of the baby's willingness to eat certain foods. Or it could simply describe habitual practices in the past: "When my grandad ate peas, he would always mush them up with his fork."
  • Whichever phrase you choose for the first phrase, it has no effect on the choice of "everything" vs "anything" or "except" vs "except for."
  • You could choose "everything but" or "anything but" with very little change in meaning, if any, in this context. There would be more impact in this context: "Hello, candy store owner. Please give me everything/anything but licorice." If I said "I like everything/anything but," I'm simply expressing preference; but "everything" means literally "every thing," and would be a much more expensive order than "any (one) thing."
  • so saying that "would do" and "used to" are synonymous is wrong. They both describe something that is no longer true but with differeences you mentioned. Would =habitual behaviour and willingness. Used to=no longer does. Right? Feb 5, 2022 at 5:39

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