The word except means ‘not including’. It can be used as a preposition or a conjunction. When used as a preposition, except is followed by a noun.
- I haven’t invited anybody except Peter. (= Peter is the only person I have invited.)
Here the noun Peter acts as the object of the preposition except.
Except can also be used as a conjunction. As a conjunction, except is followed by a clause or an adverbial phrase.
- I would like to bail him out, except I don’t have any money.
Except can also be used before a conjunction like that, when or if.
She knows nothing about him except that he is young and handsome. (= She knows nothing about him apart from the fact that he is young and handsome.)
He looks handsome except when he sleeps.
- That was a good report except for a few spelling and grammatical mistakes.
Both except and except for can be used after words like all, every, no, anybody, nowhere, whole etc. In other cases, we use except for.
- She ate everything on her plate except for the pickles. OR She ate everything on her plate except the pickles. (= She didn’t eat the pickles, but she ate everything else.)
Both except and except for are possible after everything.
- I haven’t told anybody except / except for Mary. (Both except and except for are possible after anybody.)
- Except for Mary, I haven’t invited anybody. (NOT Except Mary, I haven’t invited anybody.)