Except, accept, past, passed

Except, expect and accept

These words are often confused.

Except is a preposition. It should be followed by a noun which acts as its object.

  • Everybody came except John.

Here the noun John acts as the object of the preposition except. Except shows the relationship between ‘everybody’ and ‘John’.

Expect is a verb

  • I expected him to call but he didn’t.
  • We expect her to win the first prize.

Accept is also a verb.

  • She accepted the invitation.

Past and passed

Past can be used as a preposition, but passed cannot be used like this.

  • I walked past the school.
  • It is past your bedtime.

Past can also be used as an adverb. In this case, it is not followed by a noun.

  • A policeman walked past.

Passed is a verb. It refers to the action of passing.

  • She has passed the test.

Note that the word past usually refers to time or distance.

Into and Onto

The word into is a preposition. It is usually written as one word.

  • King Midas turned everything he touched into gold.
  • When she kissed the frog it turned into a handsome prince.

Sometimes the words in and to appear next to each other in a sentence. In this case, they should be written as two words.

  • The minister himself stepped in to avert a PR crisis. (NOT The minister himself stepped into ….)


Onto is a preposition.

  • He threw the hat onto the roof.

The difference between into and onto is similar to the difference between in and on.