Difference between Access and Excess

Key Difference: According to the Oxford Dictionaries, Access is defined as “The means or opportunity to approach or enter a place”. It refers to the ability of a person to approach a person or a place, to be able to have admission to it. Excess, on the other hand, refers to more of something that is needed, i.e. excessive. Oxford Dictionaries defines ‘excess’ as “An amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.”

AccessEnglish can be a confusing language, especially for a non-native speaker. Many a times, there are words that look and sound similar, but have two completely different meanings. Access and Excess are two such words. They sound similar, and the spelling itself also looks a little similar. Due to which, many people think that they are misspelt variations of the same word. However, that is not the case. The two words are completely different and have two completely different meanings.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, Access is defined as “The means or opportunity to approach or enter a place”. It refers to the ability of a person to approach a person or a place, to be able to have admission to it. For example, “I have access to the backstage area.” Or “I have access to the celebrity.” In this example, the term, access means that the person speaking can go into the backstage area, while others can’t. Similarly, the person can approach and speak to the celebrity, while most other people won’t be able to.

Excess, on the other hand, refers to more of something that is needed, i.e. excessive. Oxford Dictionaries defines ‘excess’ as “An amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.” For example, “There is an excess of fun at this party.” Or “The three-layer cake was an excess.” In both cases, the sentence describes something that there was too much of.

ExcessAnother difference between the two terms is that access is primarily used as a noun or a verb. For example, “The access to the room was closed off.” Here the word is used as a noun. Another example, “Can you help me access the file on the computer?” Here the term is used as a verb. However, in both cases the meaning of the word remains the same. It refers to the ability for "entry" or "admission" or "approach" to something.

Whereas, excess can also be used as a noun, but it can able be used as an adjective, i.e. to define something. When used as a noun, excess means something that is more than enough. When used as an adjective it describes the amount of something as too much. For example, as a noun, it would be used as “We've had an excess of snow this week”, whereas as an adjective, it would be used as “We decided to give the excess food to the homeless.”

A simple way to differentiate between the two words is to associate the word “access” with being “accessible”, whereas remember that “excess’ means “excessive” or “extra.”

Comparison between Access and Excess:

 

Access

Excess

Definition (Oxford Dictionaries)

The means or opportunity to approach or enter a place

An amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.

Description

The ability for "entry" or "admission" or "approach" to something or someplace.

Too much of, excessive

Type

Noun, Verb

Noun, Adjective

Etymology

Middle English (in the sense ‘sudden attack of illness’): from Latin accessus, from the verb accedere ‘to approach’

Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin excessus, from excedere ‘go out, surpass’

Example

My apartment has easy access to the garden.

I have a VIP pass with access to the backstage.

He has an access of emotion at the end of the movie.

The house is easy to access.

Only high officials have access to The Prime Minister.

I sold the entire inventory so there is no excess left.

We've had an excess of snow this week.

We decided to give the excess food to the homeless.

Excess of anything is bad.

Do not drink to excess.

Reference: Oxford Dictionaries (Access and Excess), Soft Schools,
Writing Explained, English for Students
Image Courtesy: cenetrionline.org, merinews.com

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