This question already has an answer here:

This has been asked before but apparently the thread is shut down. I did review this question at:

What is the difference between "exemption" and "exception"?

However, what about when someone says, "I will make an exception for ....". They don't say they will make an exemption which this thread implies would the correct use. Example:

"I normally charge $20 to get in, but I will make an exception for you since you are so nice."

marked as duplicate by curiousdannii, Laurel, AmE speaker, Nigel J, jimm101 Nov 21 '17 at 12:13

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    "Exception is whatever doesn't follow a rule" -- that would seem to cover this. (An exemption is allowed by a rule; an exception punches a hole in the rule.) – Andrew Leach Oct 20 '17 at 17:56
  • An exemption is the condition whereby a rule doesn't apply to you. It pertains to the scope of the rule, not its enforcement. An exception is a deviation from a rule that does apply to you, it isn't about scope, it's about administration. My old truck is exempt from the state's annual vehicle exhaust emissions test. The requirements don't apply to it and there is no issue of noncompliance. Most grandfather clauses are exemptions. In contrast, municipalities aren't exempt from the ADA, but may be granted exceptions on a case by case basis. – Phil Sweet Oct 21 '17 at 2:25
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    I thought supertonsky's Post in that Link said it all. What did we miss, please? – Robbie Goodwin Oct 21 '17 at 19:15

A useful way to looking at this is:

An exception may not be an exemption.

An exemption is an varation of normal precedence, rules or law, allowed by such. An exception is a violation of normal precedence, rules or law, which is not usual or codified.

Should a businessman have established procedures for pricing goods and services, with no allowance for any variation, then, he is making an exception by offering a price outside those usual procedures for pricing. It is an exception, as his rules no not allow for any exemption.


Should a business offer an "exception" it might be an "exemption". Businesses are not much tied to "Rules of English". There may be codified exemptions that are not explained to customers.

I think we will do well to be concerned that we use the words exemption and exception as best we can, and. perhaps not be too concerned how others may use them.

  • Could you add citations, please ? – Nigel J Oct 21 '17 at 7:23
  • @ Nigel J... the premise of the question was to clarify what had been cited in a previous question. I would think it better to withdraw my answer and declare the question a duplicate, rather than cite definitions already on record. Do you agree? – J. Taylor Oct 21 '17 at 10:27
  • I leave it to you. I understand what you are doing now. No problem. – Nigel J Oct 21 '17 at 11:29

An exception is when a certain situation is somehow different than the normal rule.

An exemption is a case when some rule doesn't apply at all.

For example, let's say that tuition to a school normally costs $5000.

  • If you have a hardship and can't afford the full price, the school might make an exception and let you pay what you can afford, say $500. This is an exception, but not an exemption, because you still pay something.

  • But if you are the child of a professor, you might get an exemption from tuition and pay nothing.


The difference between execption and exemption is one of those Zen-like things akin to the difference between zero and null. They are used differently, but their effect appears identical.

An exemption is an exclusion from the consequences of a rule, while an exception is an exclusion from the rule itself. The following definitions support this distinction.

exception noun A person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule. ‘the drives between towns are a delight, and the journey to Graz is no exception’ - ODO

exemption noun 1 The process of freeing or state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed on others. ‘exemption from prescription charges’ - ODO

  • Yes, a bit like one class of goods being exempt from Value Added Tax and another being zero rated for the same tax. In terms of the price paid it makes no difference but changing things so that tax is actually levied would be a lot simpler for the zero rated class. – BoldBen Nov 20 '17 at 5:59

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