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In the following sentence, I am to fill in the blank with the correct preposition

A cashier is liable to render account _________ the money received by him.

According to the answer provided in the book correct preposition is for but I think it should be of.
Which one is correct?

  • Some context would be helpful. Google led me to qb365.in/materials/online-test/118279/…. Is it related? – laugh Jul 18 '19 at 14:35
  • Is account supposed to be an uncountable noun in that sentence? Is render account some kind of idiom? – userr2684291 Jul 18 '19 at 15:38
  • What book did you find it in? The book I found gives the answer "of" ... see my answer below. – jonathanjo Jul 18 '19 at 17:57
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These are technical legal terms dating back many centuries in England. In that context @jonathanjo rightly notes that is not ordinary BrE or AmE but gives convincing evidence of the use as a technical term of '...render account of the money...' The key word is 'liable': that tells you that we are talking about some formal legal requirement.

In everyday use one might speak of someone 'accounting for the expenses' or 'giving an account of the financial position' but neither of these carries the forensic implication of being held to account, with the suggestion that if one's explanation is not convincing then trouble will follow.

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OK, you need to recognize two similar-sounding but quite different uses of "account". The first is typified by a sentence like:

"Alexander Selkirk met Daniel Defoe, and gave him an account of his life as a castaway sailor."

Here, Alexander is simply relating what happened. This is the most usual use of "account" in everyday speech unless you happen to work in company finance, and it is the construction which will come first to mind for most people.

Contrast that with a different sentence:

"Mr Robbins was called before the enquiry, and asked to account for his actions on the day of the accident".

The difference here is that Robbins is not asked for a mere narrative: he has responsibility for his actions and is being asked to show that he discharged that responsibility properly. It is in that context that "for" is more appropriate than "of".

A cashier has been placed in a position of trust and responsibility, and therefore is asked to account for the money and other valuables in their care. The particular sentence you have been asked to complete, tells us a little more, though. "A cashier is liable to render account..." - this is highly formal language which would almost never be used in contemporary British English.

It could be interpreted either as the language of a legal or quasi-legal document, or the formal language of business, of perhaps a half-century ago. So, today in common use most people would, I suspect, use "of", even in relatively formal circumstances, and even if they carry responsibility for the matter.

"We had our club meeting last night, and Sarah our treasurer gave an account of the finances. They are not too healthy."

But there definitely comes a point where "for" will be used to reflect and emphasize responsibility.

"We had our club meeting last night, and Sarah our treasurer gave an account of the finances. A question from one of the members asked her to account for the $500 deficit in our funds."

In exactly the same way, the sentence you are asked to complete has a meaning carried by that particular wording. It is not just saying that a cashier must be able to present accurate records of money paid in and out -- it is saying that the cashier has responsibility for the money in their care and must be prepared to account for its proper handling. In this context, "for" is definitely the correct word.

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This is apparently from the textbook Compulsory English for Civil & Judical Services Examination 2ed, A P Bhardwaj, McGraw Hill Education, 2013, which is for Indian public examinations. On p2.37 exercise 20 word 18. The book gives the answer "of".

To "render an account of [something]" means "explain what happened to [something]"

Thus

A cashier is liable to render account of the money received by him.

It has to be said the phrase without "an" is not ordinary BrE or AmE, perhaps it is in India. Perhaps it's just a mistake in the book!

OED gives

account III 5 A statement accounting for the administration of money held in trust or required by a creditor.
1837 Niles' National Reg. 19 Dec. 279/1 "It might be required of the postmaster general .. to render an account at the next session of the amount expended for each purpose specified in his estimates."

and

account III 6 A statement as to the discharge of responsibilities generally; an answering for conduct.

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For is correct, as the account that has to be rendered is for the money, not of the money.
(Account for money, NOT Account of money)

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