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What is the difference between except and besides? When do we use each of them?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

They have totally different meanings, in fact opposite in some sense. Except serves the purpose of exclusion while besides serves that of inclusion.

Suppose John is in a class of 30 students. If the other 29 students are going to the zoo but John is not, we say

The whole class is going, except John.

Now suppose Mary from another class is also going to the zoo. Then we say

Besides the class, Mary is also going.

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Thanks for answer and example –  metal-gear-solid Jan 5 '11 at 4:13
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