Before vs Except - What's the difference?

before | except |

As prepositions the difference between before and except

is that before is earlier than (in time) while except is with the exception of; but.

As conjunctions the difference between before and except

is that before is in advance of the time when while except is with the exception (that); used to introduce a clause, phrase or adverb forming an exception or qualification to something previously stated.

As an adverb before

is at an earlier time.

As a verb except is

to exclude; to specify as being an exception.




(English prepositions)
  • Earlier than (in time).
  • * (Jonathan Swift) (1667–1745)
  • Before this treatise can become of use, two points are necessary.
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=5 , passage=We made an odd party before the arrival of the Ten, particularly when the Celebrity dropped in for lunch or dinner.}}
  • * {{quote-news, year=2011, date=November 11, author=Rory Houston, work=RTE Sport
  • , title= Estonia 0-4 Republic of Ireland , passage=Stephen Ward then had to time his tackle excellently to deny Tarmo Kink as the Wolves winger slid the ball out of play before the Estonian could attempt to beat Given.}}
  • In front of in space.
  • * (John Milton) (1608-1674)
  • His angel, who shall go / Before them in a cloud and pillar of fire.
  • *
  • He tried to persuade Cicely to stay away from the ball-room for a fourth dance.she found her mother standing up before the seat on which she had sat all the evening searching anxiously for her with her eyes, and her father by her side.
  • * {{quote-magazine, year=2013, month=September-October, author=(Henry Petroski)
  • , magazine=(American Scientist), title= The Evolution of Eyeglasses , passage=The ability of a segment of a glass sphere to magnify whatever is placed before it was known around the year 1000, when the spherical segment was called a reading stone, essentially what today we might term a frameless magnifying glass or plain glass paperweight.}}
  • Under consideration, judgment, authority of (someone).
  • * (John Ayliffe) (1676-1732)
  • If a suit be begun before an archdeacon
  • In store for, in the future of (someone).
  • * (Thomas Carlyle) (1795-1881)
  • The golden ageis before us.
  • In front of, according to a formal system of ordering items.
  • At a higher or greater position in a ranking.
  • * (Bible), (w) i. 15
  • He that cometh after me is preferred before me.
  • * (Samuel Johnson) (1709-1784)
  • The eldest son is before the younger in succession.


    * (earlier than in time) by, no later than * (in front of in space) ahead of, in front of * (in front of according to an ordering system) ahead of


    * (earlier than in time) after, later than * (in front of in space) behind * (in front of according to an ordering system) after


  • At an earlier time.
  • * , chapter=12
  • , title= The Mirror and the Lamp , passage=All this was extraordinarily distasteful to Churchill. It was ugly, gross. Never before had he felt such repulsion when the vicar displayed his characteristic bluntness or coarseness of speech. In the present connexion—or rather as a transition from the subject that started their conversation—such talk had been distressingly out of place.}}
  • In advance.
  • At the front end.
  • * 1896 , (Hilaire Belloc), The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts , :
  • When people call this beast to mind,
    They marvel more and more
    At such a (little) tail behind,
    So LARGE a trunk before .


    * (at an earlier time) previously * (in advance) ahead * (at the front end) in front


    * (at an earlier time) after * (at the front end) behind

    Derived terms

    * beforehand * beforetime


    (English Conjunctions)
  • in advance of the time when
  • (informal) rather or sooner than
  • Synonyms

    * (rather than) lest


    * Andrea Tyler and Vyvyan Evans, "Spatial particles of orientation", in The Semantics of English Prepositions: Spatial Scenes, Embodied Meaning and Cognition , Cambridge University Press, 2003, 0-521-81430 8



    Alternative forms

    * excepte (rare or archaic)


    (en verb)
  • To exclude; to specify as being an exception.
  • * 2007 , Glen Bowersock, ‘Provocateur’, London Review of Books 29:4, page 17:
  • But this [ban on circumcision] must have been a provocation, as the emperor Antoninus Pius later acknowledged by excepting the Jews.
  • To take exception, to object (to' or ' against ).
  • to except to a witness or his testimony
  • * Shakespeare
  • Except thou wilt except against my love.
  • *, vol.1, New York Review Books 2001, p.312:
  • Yea, but methinks I hear some man except at these words […].
  • * 1658 , Sir Thomas Browne, Urne-Burial , Penguin 2005, page 23:
  • The Athenians'' might fairly except against the practise of ''Democritus to be buried up in honey; as fearing to embezzle a great commodity of their Countrey
  • * 1749 , Henry Fielding, Tom Jones , Folio Society 1973, page 96:
  • he was a great lover of music, and perhaps, had he lived in town, might have passed for a connoisseur; for he always excepted against the finest compositions of Mr Handel.


    (English prepositions)
  • With the exception of; but.
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2014-06-14, volume=411, issue=8891, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= It's a gas , passage=One of the hidden glories of Victorian engineering is proper drains. Isolating a city’s effluent and shipping it away in underground sewers has probably saved more lives than any medical procedure except vaccination.}}


    * apart from * bar * but * other than * save

    Derived terms

    * except for * except for opinion


    (English Conjunctions)
  • With the exception (that); used to introduce a clause, phrase or adverb forming an exception or qualification to something previously stated.
  • :
  • *
  • *:"I don't want to spoil any comparison you are going to make," said Jim, "but I was at Winchester and New College." ¶ "That will do," said Mackenzie. "I was dragged up at the workhouse school till I was twelve. Then I ran away and sold papers in the streets, and anything else that I could pick up a few coppers by—except steal.."
  • *{{quote-book, year=1922, author=(Ben Travers), title=(A Cuckoo in the Nest)
  • , chapter=2 citation , passage=Mother
  • (lb) Unless; used to introduce a hypothetical case in which an exception may exist.
  • *1526 , (William Tyndale), trans. Bible , (w) IX:
  • *:And they sayde: We have no moo but five loves and two fisshes, except we shulde goo and bye meate for all this people.
  • *1621 , (Robert Burton), (The Anatomy of Melancholy) , New York 2001, p.106:
  • *:Offensive wars, except the cause be very just, I will not allow of.
  • Statistics