Preposition Mistakes #1: Accused and Excited

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The use of prepositions is tricky, even for native speakers. Certain prepositions are used with certain words, while others are not. Here are four examples of nonstandard usage.

1. Accused

Incorrect: They were arrested and accused for murder.
Correct : They were arrested and accused of murder.

The preposition of follows the verb accused.

One may be “indicted for murder” or “tried for murder,” but one is “guilty of murder,” “suspected of murder” or “accused of murder.”

2. Moment

Incorrect: He stopped in the middle of the street to look back; the hurtling ambulance struck him in that moment.
Correct : He stopped in the middle of the street to look back; the hurtling ambulance struck him at that moment.

A moment is an extremely brief portion of time, an instant too brief to measure. In a literary context in which a character is experiencing an event in emotional “slow motion,” the phrase “in that moment” can be an appropriate stylistic choice to suggest that a great deal is happening within the instant. Likewise, the expression “to live in the moment” treats moment as having duration, as opposed to instantaneousness. In most prosaic contexts, however, the appropriate preposition is at:

At that moment he knew what his mother was thinking, and that she loved him.

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

Note: There is the polite expression “in a moment,” as in, “I’ll be with you in a moment.”

3. Accord

Incorrect: Wells told agents in Indianapolis that she left her home on her own accord and was not taken against her will.
Correct : Wells told agents in Indianapolis that she left her home of her own accord and was not taken against her will.

The noun accord in this expression means harmony or agreement. To do something “of one’s own accord” is to do something without coercion, freely, willingly.

4. Excited

Incorrect: I am excited for the new Apple watch.
Correct : I am excited about the new Apple watch.

The adjective excited is conventionally followed by the prepositions by, at, and about. Although growing in popularity with some speakers, the use of for after excited is regarded as nonstandard. Here are three more examples of standard usage:

Many dogs are excited by the presence of other dogs or humans.

She was excited at the prospect of living in London. 

Royals fans [are] nervous and excited about their return to the postseason.

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10 thoughts on “Preposition Mistakes #1: Accused and Excited”

  1. Have you ever heard people state “He did that on accident”? I’ve heard and seen that so many times lately and it make me want to scream “BY accident!”

  2. From what I’ve read, ‘moment’ doesn’t actually mean something specific. We use it in several ways nowadays, i.e. ‘I’ll be there in a moment’, ‘momentarily’, ‘in that moment’. It doesn’t really refer to an instantaneous ‘piece’ of time. When it was first coined, it actually referred to a minute and half.

  3. Correct or incorrect:
    He stands accused for the murder of his wife.
    I’m thinking “for” is correct here. The preposition “for” seems associated with “stands,” with “accused” acting as an adjective. Thoughts?

  4. @Precise Edit:
    If I’m not mistaken, in your example, ‘stands’ operates as a form of ‘being’ verb. If you substitute ‘is’ for ‘stands,’ you’ll have a present-tense version of Maeve’s example at the top.

    I never learned to diagram sentences, but this might be a good place to apply that skill. And now I’m shocked at myself for saying such a thing.

  5. Once again, “to stand accused + preposition” is an idiomatic expression in English, and several different preps are available.

  6. @PreciseEdit: I think I’d stand with Curtis. I can’t name the parts of sentence beyond noun and…I said noun already, but it “feels” like accused is the governing verb, so it would still take the preposition of.

    You might be able to say, “He stands as accused for the murder of his wife. That seems to change things a bit, but I can’t say how.

  7. @Venqax: “to stand accused” is a fixed idiom, so don’t insert any extra words into it. This is one of those idioms that came from English courtrooms, where the accused must stand.
    See the notable episode of STAR TREK “Squire of Trelane”. With Capt. Kirk as the defendant.

  8. When speaking of time, an instant is definitely shorter than a moment. An instant has zero length.
    To explain why surely takes mathematics (calculus) and physics – sorry to those who have not studied these.
    Related quantities include “instantaneous velocity”, “instantaneous power”, and “instantaneous voltage”.

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