The word “account” can mean a variety of things, depending on the context in which it is used. It also has many idiomatic uses. As a result, if not used with great care, the word can cause ambiguity and make sentences difficult to understand.
Consider the following sentence (it’s an exaggeration, but I have often seen similar):
- On account of a payment made on account of the service charges on the Lessor’s account, no further payments on this account are necessary.
The word “account” appears four times, and has three different meanings. This makes the sentence thoroughly confusing for a reader, and so some serious editing is necessary.
First of all let’s look at each phrase in turn: (1) On account of a payment made (2) on account of the service charges (3) on the Lessor’s account, no further payments (4) on this account are necessary.
首先让我们来看一下每个用到account的词组搭配：(1) On account of a payment made (2) on account of the service charges (3) on the Lessor’s account, no further payments (4) on this account are necessary.
- The first phrase, on account of means literally “by reason of”. The writer could also use “due to”, “as a result of”, or “ because of”.
第一个词组“On account of”就是“由于、因为”的意思。作者也可以用“due to”，“as a result of”或者“because of”等来表示。
- ?The second use of on account of is ambiguous because it does not mean “by reason of”. Rather it means “on the service charge account”, i.e. the record of credits related to the service charges.
第二个词组中的“on account of”就有些歧义，在这里它并不表示“由于、因为”的意思，更倾向于表示“服务费账目”，即与服务费相关的信用记录。
- The phrase on the Lessor’s account contains an error that I frequently see. It is a serious mistake because it changes the meaning of the sentence. What the writer means is “into the Lessor’s (bank) account”. However, the phrase “on someone’s account” is idiomatic and means “on someone’s behalf”. But this payment was not made on the Lessor’s behalf, rather it was made into his bank account!
第三个词组中的“on the Lessor’s account”出现了一个我经常看到的错误。这是一个严重的问题，因为它改变了整句话的意思。作者想要表达的意思应该是“汇入Lessor的银行账户”。但是“on someone’s account”是有固定用法的，相当于“on someone’s behalf”（代表某人）。但这个词组的意思并不是“代表Lessor的账户”，而是把钱汇入Lessor的账户！
Remember that in English payments are made “into or to a bank account” and NOT “on a bank account”.
- The last phrase – on this account – has three possible meanings. It contains the same ambiguity as the second use of on account of: Does the writer mean “for this reason”, or is he referring to the record of credits related to the services charges? The third possible meaning is “into a bank account”. Although this phrase is very ambiguous, it does not actually cause a problem here because the sentence ultimately means the same thing whichever way you understand this phrase.
最后一个词组“on this account”有三种不同的含义。首先，和第二个词组on account of一样，on this account到底是表示“由于（for this reason）”的意思，还是表示“与服务费相关的账目”的意思？以上就包含了两个不同的意思。第三种意思是“汇入银行账户（into a bank account）”。虽然这个词组很有歧义，不过在前后文中它的意思还是很明确的，不管你怎么理解这个词组，它所表达的意思都是一样的。
But I think you’ll agree that it is not very satisfactory to write something that can be interpreted in three different ways.