Children are exempt from the charges.

Children are exempted from the charges.

From these two sentences, the former is an example Longman dictionary provides for the word "exempt". My question is that whether the latter, which replaces the adjective exempt with the verb exempted, would be grammatically acceptable as well? And if it would, does that replacement induce any discrepancy in terms of meaning or connotation?

  • 3
    This happens with lots of verbs. The children could be free/freed from hunger, subject/subjected to random strip-searches, for example. Using the "verb" form may slightly call more attention to the fact that somebody or something must be doing the "verbing", but it's not really a significant difference. Sep 1, 2013 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


They mean the same thing, but the second one calls attention to the fact that the exemption came from somewhere or someone.

Imagine you're talking to some bureaucrat at a counter. She smiles at your children, passes your money back, and says "You don't need to pay this; children are exempt."

Different situation. You don't have enough money, and children are not normally exempt. "Okay, we'll make an exception." She scribbles her name on a piece of paper and writes "Children are exempted from the charges by my authority."

You could still used exempted in the first case, but you cannot use exempt in the second one.

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    I don't agree that you cannot use exempt in the second example. That's only true if you parse it as equivalent to My authority exempts the children, not if you parse it as By my authority [this statement is true]. Sep 1, 2013 at 16:46
  • In that case, though, don't you read it as "all children are exempt" not just this batch? Sep 1, 2013 at 17:42
  • @FumbleFingers I think GH meant we cannot use "exempt" in the second sentence without rephrasing (while we can use "exempted" in the first sentence - still without being have to rephrase).
    – user1555
    Sep 1, 2013 at 17:56
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    Greg, I personally can't see any reason to assume the potential scope of "children" is affected by that aspect of the phrasing. @Nate: My first comment meant exactly what it said - so far as I'm concerned there's nothing wrong with "Children are exempt from the charges by my authority", and it means exactly the same as the same utterance with the explicitly verbal form exempted. Sep 1, 2013 at 17:59
  • Then, as often with language, I think we just have a difference of opinion. I do read a difference unless, as Nate suggests, the sentences are rephrased. Sep 1, 2013 at 18:00

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