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I’m having a problem with word choice in the specific sentence below.

“Batman has a friend named Robin who always helps Batman when he is in danger. Very few people know who Batman really is ______ Robin.(except/besides)”

Based on the context, I consider that Robin does know the real identity of Batman, so he should be included in the group of those people who really know Batman. If the “very few people” part were changed to “a few people”, I would be confident that “besides” best fit the blank. However, when it comes to “few people”(which, in my point of view, should be considered as nearly no one), I’m not sure whether Robin should be included in or excluded from that very group. So can you help me with the word choice here? Thank you very much.

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    Welcome to English Language & Usage. If you changed to "A few people know who Batman really is, including Robin" then it would make sense. Robin would be included as one of the few who knew Batman's identity. (By the way, in the DC Comics universe, Robin is male, so one should use he and his to refer to him.)
    – rajah9
    Mar 15, 2021 at 11:50
  • Hi rajah9, thank you for your explanation. But which specific word would you choose to fit that original blank? Thank you.
    – Cat Loong
    Mar 15, 2021 at 11:55
  • @rajah9 was saying: neither suggested answer fits well here. Yes, a child might use this sentence, with either of the alternatives, but it should be rephrased in an essay by a practised native speaker. eg 'Very few people know who Batman really is; Robin is one obvious exception.' Mar 15, 2021 at 19:15

2 Answers 2

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Besides

Very few people know who Batman really is besides Robin.

This includes Robin in the group of people that know the secret (e.g., Alfred the butler is also in the know).

When except would be used

In contrast, one could say:

No one knows who Batman really is except Robin.

This means that only Robin knows the secret; no one else knows.

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“Besides” is the word, but it needs to move up front. “Besides Robin, very few people know who Batman is”. Now it is clear.

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