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Despite several posts around preposition for except, such as this and this one, I'm still not sure if I understand how to use it correctly. In fact, following sentence (part of a song) has confused me.

In fact you can keep everything, yeah, yeah, Except for me.

I think the sentence could still convey its message without using "for". So, am I right?

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    Yes you are right. – Brian Hitchcock Jun 8 '15 at 6:16
  • So what's the role of "for" in the sentence? Is this an idiomatic usage or something else? – Eilia Jun 8 '15 at 6:45
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    Yeah, I would say it's idiomatic. It might be more common in speech than in writing, or more common in some regions than others. Just guessing though. – Brian Hitchcock Jun 8 '15 at 7:17
  • So what's the role of "for" in the sentence? Is this an idiomatic usage or something else? In this case, the quote is from a song. The extra syllable provided by "for" finishes the last line and also provides necessary emphasis. – Margana Jun 8 '15 at 14:57
  • In a song or poem, it might be needed for the meter. – Barmar Jun 8 '15 at 15:51
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You are right. You don't need the "for" in this instance. You could argue that it's idiomatic, superfluous, or included to add rhythm to the sentence (hardly unusual in poetry and song lyrics).

If you're confused about usage, however, "except" and "except for" are not interchangeable. "Except for" means "were it not for" whereas "except" means "other than."

You could have kept me, except for your bad attitude.

This is not the same as:

You could have kept me, except your bad attitude.

Just drop in their alternatives:

You could have kept me, were it not for your bad attitude.

You could have kept me, other than your bad attitude.

The second one doesn't make sense. Your example:

In fact you can keep everything, yeah, yeah, other than me.

So the "for" is superfluous, but it's not incorrect (well, maybe some people would say so, but it's a song lyric). If you're trying to figure out other cases, use this substitution method to help you work out whether you have to use the "for" or not. In most cases, you may find that the sense of "other than" is conveyed by both "except" and "except for" but "were it not for" only by "except for." This usage, however, may also be idiomatic, as the American Heritage Dictionary suggests:

Idiom:

except for

Were it not for: I would join you except for my cold.

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In short, "for" is for the "reasons"? like your last example: "I would join you except for my cold" can be re-written as: "I would join you but I couldn't, because my cold is an exception for the case, and it's the reason I couldn't make it."

  • The one who devoted me can explain why? Or people just dislike for dislike now? – 陳泰達 Nov 17 '16 at 8:43
  • sorry, not devoted, I meant "voted against me" – 陳泰達 Nov 17 '16 at 8:44

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