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In one of my essays, I wrote:

She accused him for lack of morality

and it was marked as a syntactic error. Do we use for or of with the verb accuse?

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As far as I know, accuse is always used with the preposition of. To say accuse someone for something is just grammatically wrong. If you accuse someone of doing something wrong or illegal, you tell them that you believe or suspect that they did it.

Example #1:

He was accused of embezzling millions of dollars through offshore accounts, but the court couldn't come up with solid proof of his crime that was enough to put him behind bars. So, they just had to let him go.

Example #2:

How dare you accuse me of stealing money from my own friends!

So, your example if properly rewritten would read like this:

She accused him of lacking moral principles.

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    I believe She accused him of (a) lack of morality should be okay, too. – Damkerng T. Dec 9 '15 at 8:32
  • So, we can also use a noun after "accuse of"? – V.Lydia Dec 9 '15 at 8:59
  • I think so. Therefore, you can say "she was accused of theft". – Michael Rybkin Dec 9 '15 at 9:19
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    For can sometimes be correct when the "of [thing]" is implied. E.g. When questioned about the murder, she accused her coworker for lack of a better scapegoat. or he accused his own son for he had no shame. – MooseBoys Dec 9 '15 at 17:03
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    Right, but in your examples, for means something like because. That's rather an old-fashioned way of saying things. – Michael Rybkin Dec 27 '17 at 16:35
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You accuse someone "of" doing something. You can however accuse someone "for" a given reason or "for" a third party(ie, on behalf of).

So both instances can occur in grammatically correct English but the more common use is the direct one, where you accuse someone OF a crime.

Also, you would either accuse someone of "A" lack of morality or accuse someone of "lacking" morality.

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You should use "of" here.

He was accused of having destroyed the evidence.

The 'of' specifies the reason why he was accused, even though both of them are propositions.

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Accuse to charge someone with a criminal act or allege that they have committed wrongdoing. He was accused of stealing company funds. "Accused of" is correct.

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The answer really depends on what you're trying to say, but in an essay, you wouldn't want to phrase it like that, no matter what you were trying to say.

You might want to rephrase that, in an essay, to something like one of these, depending on the context and what you mean (although your teacher may prefer some over others):

She spoke against his moral character.

She accused him of immorality.

She accused him of being immoral.

She accused him on account of his lack of morality.

She accused him because of his lack of morality.

She accused him of having a lack of morality.

She accused him by reason of his lack of morality.


It should be noted that lack of morality and immorality are not necessarily synonymous in today's society. Immorality more often refers to sexual misconduct, while lack of morality can mean that, but it might mean anything bad about the person's moral character.

'She accused him[,] for lack of morality' can be shorthand for 'She accused him for the sake of his lack of morality.'

While your words could be correct (depending on what you mean), they'd be too informal for an essay, since they leave out a bunch of implied words. Plus, it would be unconventional to phrase it this way in our day and age.

You wouldn't want to say the following in an essay, either, though (since it's also potentiality implying extra words, and it's really not how people talk, either):

'She accused him of lack of morality.'

Do the longer version of the same thing in an essay (or in conversation) instead, or rephrase it:

'She accused him of having a lack of morality.'

You wouldn't say, 'She accused him of lack.' but rather 'of having a lack.' 'Lack of morality' isn't a single word that ends in 'ality' (like immorality is).

I would recommend rephrasing it and removing the words 'lack of', if possible, though.

Now to get to your question, 'of' is the preposition you would normally use with 'accuse'. The cases where other prepositions seem to be used are things you could do with pretty much any sentence (e.g. I went fishing on account of the traffic jam). There's nothing special about an 'accuse/on' combination that makes 'on' belong to the word 'accuse'. Same with 'for the sake of'.

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