On All Counts or On All Accounts?

This past week I was asked a question that had me stumped for a while until I explored it. Is the expression “to be 
  right on all counts” or “to be right on all accounts”?
It seems that both are acceptable, but you may find using “counts” to be more euphonious. “Counts” is used more often, but that doesn’t make “accounts” wrong.
 
Of course, if you are boxing referee, you will hope to be right on all counts, and if you are a CPA, you want to be correct on all accounts. 
You may now groan.
 
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7 Comments

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

7 responses to “On All Counts or On All Accounts?

  1. Ruth Hollenbach

    It should be “on all counts” (meaning on all points or items being discussed – an account is not an item so cannot use account!) It should be “by all accounts” (meaning: going by all accounts of the situation and from all the different facts heard – count is not a telling of anything, such as the facts and stories in the situation, so cannot use count here)

    • Ruth, an account can be an item. My account of a situation is one account and yours is a second account.

      Counts are also items: an accused person could be acquitted or found guilty on all counts he or she was charged with.

      • Ruth Hollenbach

        Item or not, my direction is still correct, one cannot say on all accounts…. it makes no sense…… you must say “BY all accounts”……

    • Roof Hawlerfront

      You don’t HAVE to say “BY all accounts.”

  2. I agree, “by all accounts” is correct if one is referring to stated or written explanations of an event. But that mythical CPA is correct in stating that his or her computations were correct “on all accounts” in question.

  3. Thank you, Judi! I heard my mother use “accounts” and she’s a major wordsmith, but she’s also almost 80. I use “counts”. I assume it was probably more popular (correct?) to use “accounts” years ago, and now we (meaning, me) subsequent generations are just lazier and shortening it to “counts”!

    • Hi, Andrea. I don’t know where you live, but in Los Angeles and New York I hear “on all accounts” far more frequently than “counts.” To me, “accounts” means a telling about a situation, so if I used that word I would change the preposition to “by.” But your theory about human laziness shortening the saying to “on all counts” could very well be true. In the end, common usage is the determiner of what we say and write. So glad you wrote. J.

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