Which one is correct?

  1. He is accused of killing a person
  2. He is accused for killing a person

I thought option 2 is correct. But I was told that option 1 is correct. If you know why "of" is used, please share your views.

  • 4
    This would be a good question to ask of English Language Learners.
    – MetaEd
    Jul 30, 2013 at 23:07
  • 2
    He could be charged or detained for killing a person; but it must be accused of killing a person. See answer from tchrist.
    – TrevorD
    Jul 30, 2013 at 23:21
  • @Trevor, +1, but can "of killing" be a short form for "of having killed" in the same way one says, for example, "after reading" to say "after having read"?
    – user19148
    Jul 31, 2013 at 1:21
  • It's just a rule in English on verbs and their associated prepositions: you accuse someone 'of' doing something. There's no 'why' to it. Each language has their own peculiarities, there's not a lot of reason to it, just something to learn when you learn the verb I'm afraid.
    – Pete855217
    Jul 31, 2013 at 7:25
  • 1
    @Carlo_R. If I understand you correctly, yes! "accused of killing" = "accused of having killed", but the former style is more common (in BrE). Altho more usual would be, e.g. "accused of murdering X" or "accused of the manslaughter of X" (or some other options), because those are the actual legal offenses with which someone would be charged depending on how & why the killing occurred. Note the different styles because murder is a verb or noun, whereas manslaughter is only a noun.
    – TrevorD
    Jul 31, 2013 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


In Contemporary English, the only preposition that follows accuse is of. However, in times gone by, for was sometimes seen.

From the OED’s entry on accuse verb, here are the first three primary senses of that verb, minus subsenses and citations. It is the third one that is here operative:

1. To charge with a fault; to find fault with, blame, censure.

2. (With the charge expressed.) To blame, charge, indict. a with as (for obs.).

3. To accuse (a person) of, (for, in, upon obs.): To charge with the crime or fault of.

To show you the historical progression, here are the citations for the third sense:

  • 1393 Gower Conf. III. 236 — The world hath oft accused Full grete princes of this dede.
  • C. 1430 Lydgate Bochas (1544) i. ii. 22 a, — Atreus accused himself of murdre, and his brother upon advoutrye.
  • 1579 Gosson Sch. Abuse (Arb.) 17, — I accuse my selfe of discourtesie too my friendes in keeping these abuses so long secret.
  • 1598 Shaks. Merry Wives ii. i. 180 — These that accuse him in his intent towards our wiues, are a yoake of his discarded men.
  • 1602 Shaks. Haml. iii. i. 124, — I could accuse me of such things, that it were better my Mother had not borne me.
  • 1655 Fuller Ch. Hist. ix. 163 — As a Father of the Church, he is accused for too much conniving at the factious disturbers thereof.
  • 1809 Southey in Q. Rev. I. 193 — The Romanists accuse the Protestants for their indifference.
  • 1878 Seeley Stein III. 476 — They may accuse his admirers of claiming too much, but they can bring no such accusation against himself.

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