account for

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Zhengke, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. Zhengke Member

    Shanghai
    Chinese-mandarin
    Emergency preparedness is no longer the sole concern of earthquake prone Californians and those who live in the part of the country known as "Tornado Alley." For Americans, preparedness must now account for man-made disasters as well as natural ones. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count. source: http://www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/index.html

    Here the phrase "account for" confused me a bit, it is explained in http://www.thefreedictionary.com/account+for as blow:

    account for 1. To constitute the governing or primary factor in: Bad weather accounted for the long delay.
    2. To provide an explanation or justification for: The suspect couldn't account for his time that night.

    With 1., the sentence is explained as:"preparedness must now constitute primary factor in man-made disasters as well as natural ones."
    With 2., it is:"preparedness must now provide an explanation for man-made disasters as well as natural ones."

    Neither of them makes sense to me, can anyone help me on this sentence? Thank you!
     
  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    I think the writer means take into account (meaning take into consideration). He or she has left out "take into" and you're right to question it.
     
  3. Zhengke Member

    Shanghai
    Chinese-mandarin
    Accord to http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/take-into-account#take-into-account__1, if it is explained as "take into account", there should not be "for" after it. For example:
    A good architect takes into account the building's surroundings.

    Can anyone give furthur explanation?
     
  4. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Yes, that's correct: ... preparedness must now take into account man-made disasters ...
     
  5. Zhengke Member

    Shanghai
    Chinese-mandarin
  6. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    I tried to suggest in post #2 that account for used to mean take into account is a mistake, so I have no grammatical explanation to offer.
     
  7. Zhengke Member

    Shanghai
    Chinese-mandarin
    Copyright, thank you for your help.
    So, here "account for" equals "take into account", it is not just that "take into" is left over.

    I am wondering is it commonly accepted to use "account for" in this way? It really confused me.
     
  8. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    We were typing those last two posts at the same time. I do think it's a mistake. These things happen -- just think of all the mistakes that writers of Chinese make. :) Just because something is written doesn't mean it's right.
     
  9. Zhengke Member

    Shanghai
    Chinese-mandarin
    Thanks again.
    This is materail required to read after my English class and it is a gov websit, I think the english used here is very serious and flawless.

    I agree with you that it is a mistake, I really appreciate your help.
     
  10. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    If it's any consolation, some of the signs put up by the Hong Kong government (and remember that English is an official language here) are some of the worst examples of English. I've often thought it would be a great job to be paid for correcting all the official signs.

    By the way, I think your last word should be flawed (having flaws); flawless is not having any flaws, not even one. :)
     

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