Can I say "except" instead of "except for" in this context? If not, what would be the difference between these two phrases?
Yes! You can use "except" instead of "except for." The meaning does not change. It's understood that "for" is omitted to make the sentence shorter. Ex: Everyone is in the living room except for Jerry. Ex: Everyone's going to the park except Mary. Ex: I invited my entire class except for Dean. He's a jerk. Ex: We all plan to go except Kenzie.
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