Lets say that I have three credit cards, card A, card B and card C. Which of the following is correct?

  1. How many credit cards do you have except for card A?

  2. How many credit cards do you have besides card A?

This is a silly argument with my wife, both of us are not native speakers. I think 'besides' and 'except' has something to do with facts, because I already have card A, the 1st sentence is wrong. My wife thinks 'besides' or 'except' only means to 'include' or 'exclude' from discussion, so the 1st sentence is correct.

Who is correct?

  • 2 is correct. Alternatives could be “not counting card A” “outside of card A” – Jim Apr 21 '17 at 20:53
  • 'I have no cards except card A' would be correct, but not 'I have three cards except [for] card A' or 'How many credit cards do you have except for card A?' – Edwin Ashworth Apr 21 '17 at 22:02
  • not including could substitute for "besides" – Xanne Apr 22 '17 at 6:49

(2) For counting items, "besides" or even "excluding" are better prepositions to use.

You'd use "except" in a sentence such as "We took all the boxes except the red and green ones." -- there's no counting.

  • I agree, +1; but your answer will be strengthened with some documentation to back it up. – aparente001 Apr 22 '17 at 2:28

"...in addition to...", perhaps?

How many credit cards do you have in addition to card A?

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