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I came across an essay instruction written by a grammar school teacher writing 'Write an essay in which you account for the opinions ...' Shouldn't it be '... in which you MAKE AN ACCOUNT for the opinions ...'

/Søren

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    You could phrase it that way (roughly speaking), but the original is just as idiomatic (which is to say, not very -- it's not an extremely common usage). Account can be used as a noun or a verb. – Hot Licks May 14 '16 at 17:33
  • It should be noted that, in the above context, either "explain" or "justify" (depending on the intended meaning) is probably better than "account for". – Hot Licks May 14 '16 at 21:33
  • I find that expressions such as account for and provide for can trip up non-native English speakers who otherwise speak fluently. They understand account and provide without the for, but the combination strikes them as incorrect English. – Drew May 15 '16 at 3:23
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Considering the definition of account as a verb is literally "to provide or present an account of," yes I think it's fine. Your alternative does sound awkward, maybe you meant "give an account of ?" That wouldn't sound so terrible.

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I might find it awkward and assume the speaker's first language is not English if they said "Write an essay in which you make an account for the opinions..."

Either the first way or "Write an essay in which you take into account the opinions..." are fine. You should consider and address "the opinions..." when writing the essay.

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