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Consider the following sentences:

  1. Get thee hence, lest we too die on your account!

  2. Get thee hence, lest we too die on account of you!

My intuition is that the two are identical in meaning, the former merely sounding more melodious. However, since I know others who disagree, I am looking for a vaguely authoritative source (preferable descriptive, rather than prescriptive; i.e. giving examples of usage to prove its point).

The argument I have heard is that 'on your account' is equivalent to 'for your benefit', and cannot mean 'because of you', unlike 'on account of you', which can. This seems to be corroborated by Google's dictionary, but not by the Cambridge English Dictionary.

An ideal answer would cite a discussion of this particular topic, or provide real usage examples (from reputable sources).

  • 2
    Briefly, on your account = for your benefit (now or forward). On account of you = because of what you did or because of what I know you like or dislike (based on the past). – Yosef Baskin Jun 30 '17 at 21:48
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I believe they are synonymous. While I realize some online dictionaries say on someone's account means for their benefit, the Cambridge online dictionary indicates the meaning is because of. Additionally, people will often use the turn of phrase Don't cancel on my account when they mean because of me. That being said, if someone were to say to me, "Don't reschedule the meeting on my account," it could be interpreted as because of me or for my benefit.

-1

There is no difference. In English, there are two forms of possessive: the boy's name and the name of the boy.

(Some other languages just use one - compare Latin puer the/a boy becomes pueri the/a boy's or of the/a boy.)

Because 'you' is a pronoun, we have your/of you instead of you's/of you, but your is still semantically and grammatically identical to of you. As such, on your account is the exact same as on account of you, unless you have to meet a word limit :)

If you want to look at possessives further, here's a helpful page.

Note that the phrase 'on account of you' essentially means 'because of the report you present'. We tend to read 'on account of' as one word because it's somewhat idiomatic, but it helps to take note of the meaning (on that page, the 2nd defintiion) of account.

Also note that 'on account of' is essentially equivalent to 'because of', save that the former is typically used for animate things only. See this discussion.

  • There is certainly a difference to many people (myself included). Just like the two different possessives are frequently not equivalent in English, so too may expressions using them also be different. Consider: “I feel so bad. I accidentally knocked over a cup of coffee, and it fried Sally’s laptop. It’s totally dead now, and all on my account”. That may be possible for some people, but it sounds utterly bizarre to me – it implies that the breaking of the computer was for my benefit, when it was in fact my fault. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 24 '18 at 14:06
  • @JanusBahsJacquet this example of yours only demonstrates that you are uncomfortable with the phrase 'on my account', not that there is any issue with it. 'My account' in your example has nothing to do with 'my benefit' - I can hardly say 'it fried Sally's laptop for my account' unless you want to interpret 'account' as that which is held with a bank. When you take 'account' as literally meaning 'report' or 'reckon' or 'count' (I gave an orderly account of this) you note that its meaning is absolutely removed from any implication of your own benefit. – Joseph Paduch Mar 31 '19 at 7:23
  • @JanusBahsJacquet further, when the noun phrase and the adjective are not equivalent, it is because one is a noun phrase and the other an adjective. 'I think of you' is different to 'I think your' simply because the latter requires a noun to complement it. (Although that's probably not the best example because 'think of' functions as a phrasal verb). – Joseph Paduch Mar 31 '19 at 7:25
  • No, I have no problem with on my account as an expression. I am saying that it means something different from on account of me. I don’t know where you’re getting for my account from, nor how it’s relevant; the same goes for other meanings of account which are also not relevant to this particular expression. And what noun phrase and adjective are you talking about? My point is that on X’s account means ‘for the benefit of X’, whereas on account of X means ‘because of X’. They are not equivalent and not interchangeable. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 31 '19 at 7:48

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