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Sei immer du selbst. Außer du kannst ein Einhorn sein, dann sei immer ein Einhorn!

I haven't quite understood the meaning of "außer" here. I thought it is a preposition that comes with "Dativ". Now it is like a connecter that comes with "Hauptsatz". Please explain to me the meaning of it here in the previous sentence and please explain how "außer" works in this kind of usage (not a preposition).

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  • The meaning as a conjunction is in Wiktionary. It is kind of a weird, humorous sentiment, and it took me a while to "get" it, even after it was translated into English, but the grammar itself isn't really that difficult once you allow for the rather strange meaning. It makes a bit more sense if you combine the sentences since the außer really refers to the first sentence.
    – RDBury
    Apr 12 at 12:59
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You are right that außer can be a preposition with dative (or, depending on context, with accusative or genitive). But it can also be a conjuction that is synonymous with es sei denn, (dass) … In your example

Sei immer du selbst. Außer du kannst ein Einhorn sein, dann sei immer ein Einhorn!

außer is a conjunction. The example can be rewrittes as follows:

Sei immer du selbst. Es sei denn, du kannst ein Einhorn sein, dann sei immer ein Einhorn!
(Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn!)

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"Außer" is used here as a conjuction meaning "unless", "except if".

German synonyms: "es sei denn", "ausgenommen".

See also:

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