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What's wrong with it? Options
ahmetwrt
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 7:17:59 PM
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One gramar book I study says a sentence like the one below is incorrect:
(This is not the original sentence, but very much alike)

She has three sisters except for the one in England.

It says instead of "except for", "besides" should be used. I'm OK with "besides", but I can't get why it is incorrect to say "except for", which does seem understandable to me.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 7:54:31 PM

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There's a glitch in the logic of this sentence, whatever word you use (besides, instead of, except...)
She has three sisters anyway, where ever they reside.
You could say: She has three sisters, two living in Turkey and one in England.
Or: All his sisters live near her except one who lives in England.
RuthP
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 8:00:37 PM

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She has three sisters except for the one in England.
As written, this would mean one of the sisters was not a sister, in which case, the sentence contradicts itself. It truly does not make sense to a native English speaker.

This construction makes sense in a case like this:
She has three sisters. The sisters live in France, except for one, who lives in England.

In this case, we first enumerate the sisters. That's fine, because they are all sisters. Then, we define a group of "sisters who live in France" and remove one of the sisters from the "live in France" group, because she lives in England.

The use of "except" takes whoever or whatever is being excepted out of the group, so she cannot have three sisters except one, because that literally means one of those you named as a sister (put in the group of sisters) is being taken out of that group.

You could also do this with numbers, but without "except".
She has three sisters; two live in France and one lives in England.

She has three sisters besides the one in England.
This is OK; it rather assumes the sister who lives in England has been mentioned in conversation, and one member of the discussion is now giving more information about "She" (i.e. the subject of our original sentence). The conversation might go something like this,
"Do you know Martha, who sits next to me in Geology class?"
"Yes."
"Did you know her sister lives in England?"
"Yes. She has three sisters besides the one in England. They are all in France."


Personally, I am not very fond of the "besides" construction and would rather say
She has three sisters in addition to the one who lives in England.

Both the "besides" construction and the "in addition to" construction mean she has four sisters, so, including "She" there are five sisters in total.
ahmetwrt
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 8:09:11 PM
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Thank you Ruth.
Would it make sense if the sentence were:

She has three sisters here (or in France, wherever) except for the one in England.
Krissy_Anne
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 11:07:59 PM
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Location: Australia
I don't think you can use "except' in the context of the sentence as you have written it. As Ruth points out, it indicates taht one of the sisters is not a sister, so the sentence contradicts itself.

I think Ruth has pretty much covered the options for the way you could say the sentence. Most people I know, would say "She has three sisters, as well as the one in England."


Marissa La Faye Isolde
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 11:22:39 PM
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I think the original sentence is incorrect with use of "except for."

I think the grammar book's explanation using "besides" is the correct way to write this sentence.
NancyUK
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 5:43:58 AM
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ahmetwrt wrote:
One gramar book I study says a sentence like the one below is incorrect:
(This is not the original sentence, but very much alike)

She has three sisters except for the one in England.

It says instead of "except for", "besides" should be used. I'm OK with "besides", but I can't get why it is incorrect to say "except for", which does seem understandable to me.


I agree with Marissa - if you replace the words except for with the word besides, the sentence is fine, although this construction probably would be used only in American English.

She has three sisters besides the one in England.

This is using the word in the following way:

be·sides [prep.]
1. In addition to.

The meaning (or rather the meaninglessness) of the sentence if you use except for has already been explained thoroughly above.
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