What is the difference between the following two?

  • We didn't have a chance to meet, except for the campaign.
  • We didn't have a chance to meet, except in the campaign [or "except for in the campaign"].

I would also appreciate if there is a better way of conveying the same message.

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    The grammatical rules governing when to use "except for" and when to use "except" are exceptionally complex; the explanations given on the internet contradict each other, and many contradict my intuition as a native English speaker. And for what it's worth, this intuition says it should be "except in the campaign". – Peter Shor Jul 23 '13 at 17:38

Assuming a correct comprehension of the semantics here, I think the problem is with the choice, or lack of choice, of preposition for "the campaign". I would use the following:

We didn't have a chance to meet; except for during the campaign.

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The way I read it, both statements are correct depending on purpose. "For" conveys the purpose of participating in the campaign. "In" means place but not purpose; it could have been by chance.

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If I understood correctly shouldn't it be

We didn't GET the chance to meet except ON the campaign.

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  • There's no differebce between have and get in this context I think. – Noah Feb 21 '12 at 6:31

I will propose that, "We haven't had a chance to meet since the campaign" might be less awkward.

I will also admit though, that my proposal only covers the time period following the campaign whereas the OP's sentence covers the time both before and after. Nevertheless I would imagine that the post-campaign time period is the more important of the two here.

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  • Both actions happened in the past and I am reporting it in the present. Present perfect can not be used becuase it implies that you have just met. It's just like you want to say hello to someone whom you had met only once in a meeting in the past. – Noah Feb 25 '12 at 19:45
  • @Noah: I disagree. No implication with repsect to having just met has been made. This statement could have been delivered via e-mail or voice mail, for example. As I said above, the real difference between my suggestion and your original statement forms, is that in your phrasing it means that the only time that an opportunity to meet existed was while on the campaign; that chance existed neither before nor after. One cannot tell from the statement whether a meeting actually took place at that time- merely that the 'chance' was there. – Jim Feb 25 '12 at 21:02

Throw out the unneeded negative "we didn't have..." and replace it with a positive statement. Then it becomes a simpler and clearer "We had chance to meet during the campaign"

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  • Hmmm! & Hmmm! = Hmmm! ^2 - +1 anyway. – user21032 May 15 '12 at 16:47
  • That is a whole lot of hmmmmmm.... – Roaring Fish May 16 '12 at 6:35

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