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Recently I have been told that it's not correct to use "except" in this sentence.

1 I have already had three lessons (today) except this one.

It should be:

2 I have already had three lessons (today) excluding this one.

Do you agree? If yes, what's the reason for that?

They mean basically the same: Except - with the exclusion of; other than; Exclude - to shut out from consideration

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    "All X's except Xn" means every member of the set mentioned except the individual mentioned. "All the boys in the class except Ben" / "I have fallen asleep in all today's lessons except this one." //// "[I've had] n X's, excluding this one" means this is the (n+1)th. "I've already got three bruises, excluding this one." ie "I've already got three bruises – and that's excluding this one." ie "I've already got three bruises – and that's not counting this one." ie "I've already got three bruises – this makes number four." Jun 13, 2020 at 15:28
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    'Not counting this one' would be more natural in his context. Jun 13, 2020 at 16:44
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    There's nothing strictly wrong with the first sentence, but it's not how it would normally be expressed, so it sounds wrong. Normally, it would be something like this: I have already had three lessons (today), except none of them were this one. Leaving out those words makes it odd. Jun 13, 2020 at 17:02

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1 sounds like you're not actually having this lesson. "Except" seems to refer to "had", and so it means that you "have not had" this lesson, and furthermore, it appears to say that you are not going to have it. Hence in the context of this sentence, it's close to nonsense (How can you not have a lesson you are already by implication having?).

On the other hand, the "excluding" in 2 refers to the count of the number of lessons you've had.

It's tantalisingly subtle.

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  • I have no idea why "except" must refer to "had", I'll have to think about it.
    – user1425
    Jun 13, 2020 at 12:45

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