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Which of the two formulations is correct or preferable?

Alienation of consumer from producer allows the existence of unaccounted for externalities.

Alienation of consumer from producer allows the existence of unaccounted externalities.

I would say the first is correct while the second isn't. What do you say?

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@tchrist may be on the right track; but you need to give a fuller account of the context. Are we to take the Marxist overtone of 'alienation' into account? To what are these 'externalities' external? Who or what is doing the accounting? What sort of account does it produce? Have you looked up 'account' to determine what idiom suits your need, or are you asking us to guess? – StoneyB Nov 19 '12 at 13:08
This question shows no research from the asker. Please explain to us why you are in doubt. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 19 '12 at 18:22
@MattЭллен: I am in doubt because I am not a native speaker, I believed it is "unaccounted for" but one of my colleagues asserted it was "unaccounted". – Benjamin Nov 20 '12 at 5:00
@Benjamin what precisely is causing you doubt? What grammar rules are not being upheld? – Matt E. Эллен Nov 20 '12 at 10:01
@MattЭллен: I am not looking at it from grammar rules, I am looking at it from ignorance. I simply was not sure as to what applies in this case, hence I turned to those who may know better. – Benjamin Nov 20 '12 at 14:17
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Just like how when something is uncalled for, it becomes an uncalled-for something when used attributively, you need to use a hyphen to make a fronted adjective out of a participle that takes a preposition, or else your preposition gets lost and can lead to confusion and wrong parses.


  • Alienation of consumer from producer allows the existence of unaccounted for externalities.


  • Alienation of consumer from producer allows the existence of unaccounted externalities.


  • Alienation of consumer from producer allows for the existence of unaccounted externalities.


  • Alienation of consumer from producer allows for the existence of unaccounted-for externalities.

Citations of this sort of thing in OED include:

  • 1725 Pope Odyss. xxii. 164 ― Oh curst event! and oh unlook’d-for aid!
  • 1817 Bennet in Parl. Deb. 340 ― He would oppose··this arbitrary, impolitic, and uncalled-for measure.
  • 1842 Lover Handy Andy xlvii, ― The extraordinary capers Tom cut on the occasion, and the unheard-of lies he squandered.
  • 1856 N. Brit. Rev. XXVI. 109 ― A slatternly wife and eight or ten uncared-for children.
  • 1860 Ruskin Unto this Last ii. (1896) 65 ― In some far-away and yet undreamt-of hour.
  • 1864 Pusey Lect. Daniel iii. 105 ― Noah was the unlistened-to preacher of righteousness during those 120 years.
  • 1876 Miss Yonge Womankind xiii, ― The best endeavours··are often frustrated by some unguessed-at peril.
  • 1878 Bosw. Smith Carthage 30 ― Elated by an unlooked-for victory.
  • 1878 Browning Poets Croisic li, ― Who may be this glorified Mortal unheard-of hitherto?
  • 1880 Geo. Eliot in Cross Life (1885) III. 406 ― The great, once undreamed-of change in my life.
  • 1894 Mrs. Dyan Man’s Keeping (1899) 47 ― This unreckoned-for encounter··was a bitter pang.
  • 1919 M. K. Bradby Psycho-Anal. & its Place in Life x. 12 ― An unthought-out attitude is shown and resulting unhappiness.
  • 1959 O. Mills Stairway to Murder v. 49 ― Her collection of unwished-for guests.
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I've checked four dictionaries and find no transitive sense of "account" which could be in play here. I think OP's "unaccounted [for]" must mean "not taken into account" or "for which no account has been given" or possibly (though it's hard to see how) "not accounted for". – StoneyB Nov 19 '12 at 13:25
@StoneyB I now think we are in an Eats, Shoots, and Leaves scenario: the lamentable lack of a hyphen in unaccounted-for externalities led me to a wrong parse. That’s why I said it sounded wrong to me. A hyphen would change everything. – tchrist Nov 19 '12 at 13:27
@StoneyB Some possible citations: §1585 Abp. Sandys Serm. (1841) 297 ― This is the acceptable and only accounted time. §1548 Cranmer Catechismus 100 b, ― Yet verely (all thynges accompte) theyr losse is greater then theyr gaynes. §1608 Shaks. Pericles i. i. 30 ― Was with long use account’d [Globe ed. account] no sin. §1582 Bentley Monumt. Matrones ii. 1 ― My sinnes··in number are so manie··that I cannot account them. §1653 Walton Angler 86 ― A Trout··that is accounted rare meat. §1812 Examiner 5 Oct. 633/1 ― Which suffers an Irish Defaulter of unaccounted millions, to remain unaudited. – tchrist Nov 19 '12 at 13:35
Pericles and Angler are "considered as", which will hardly work here; the others are an obsolete usage (we now say simply 'count', in some cases 'count [to your credit]'), except the last, which may be simply an error for 'uncounted' or may be 'not accounted for' in the narrow sense of 'not on the books'. – StoneyB Nov 19 '12 at 13:53
I suspect what OP means is "The distance between the consumer and the producer leaves room for the intrusion of new entities, of which the classic model gives no account." – StoneyB Nov 19 '12 at 13:59

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