In Arabic, it is allowed to say for instance:

All the students left the room except the teacher.

So, the teacher is put after an "except" even though he is not one of the students. It's probably a bit of an obscure usage even in Arabic.

Does it exist in English in some obscure rule or usage?

  • 1
    No. All the students left the room, but not the teacher. Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 16:00
  • [In Arabic, you can say, or we can say, or we say.] The thing or person excepted has be belong to the same category. All the guests left the party except me. [I am a guest]. See? :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 16:15
  • Certainly the construction is grammatical. However, it is also nonsensical. I'm thinking you've mistaken these concepts.
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


Except is used to denote exclusion from a group where something would otherwise be included. If something is not a member of the original group, you should not use "except" to exclude it.

In the example sentence, since the teacher is not a student, you cannot use "except" to exclude them from a group of students. The sentence as written implies that the teacher themselves is a student, which is likely not the intended meaning. To use "except", you must use a grouping that would normally include the teacher, such as:

Everybody left the room except the teacher.

  • The general rule is surely well-known. But, the way I mentioned is mainly used for the purposes of brevity and eloquence. So, I wanted to know if similar usage exists in English.
    – The Z
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 16:09
  • @TheZ You'll probably be understood - most would read the sentence to mean the students left the room and the teacher did not. Some people might not even notice the issue in passing, but the mislabeling usually doesn't make the sentence any shorter and certainly doesn't improve eloquence. Someone stating that "all mammals except insects are warm blooded" or that "all planets except the moon orbit the sun" would sound rather foolish, since it indicates they wrongly categorize insects as mammals and the moon as a planet. Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 16:21

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