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I'm writing a blog post, and with one of the sentences I want to say that I'm not judging anyone differently to how I judge myself. So I thought I'd go with the "hold someone to account" metaphor. That way of expressing what I want to say is proving tricky, however. Does anyone know how to write this? This is what I have so far:

"I'm not holding anyone I know to a different account than the one to which I am also responsible."

Should "responsible" be "liable"? Should it be "by which" rather than "to which"? I like this sentence, and I want to get it right.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Consider: ... the one to which I hold myself. It makes you more active in your own self-accounting. And it strengthens the rhythm of the end of the sentence.

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+1 Hmmm, very good. Probably the one! – Ralph Lavelle Jan 21 '12 at 6:08
Thanks Dale: this is the one I went for. You can see it at ralphlavelle.net/2012/01/sopa-in-black-and-white.html – Ralph Lavelle Jan 22 '12 at 7:31

I think the only reason the sentence as-is doesn't feel quite right is grammatical. The thought makes enough sense to understand what you're trying to say without changing anything.

The issue for me is that you wouldn't "hold someone to account," you would hold someone accountable.

Between liable and responsible, I prefer the word responsible as it connotes a stronger sense of personal acceptance of the accountability we're referring to. To be liable means you may be held responsible, but it does not mean that you are responsible -it sounds more like legal jargon. For example, if I co-signed a loan with my son and he failed to pay that loan, I might be liable even though I am only indirectly responsible. I could see someone saying, "I may be liable, but it wasn't my fault!" I have more trouble with the statement, "I may have been responsible, but it wasn't my fault!"

So with that said, maybe a couple possibilities...

I am not suggesting a double-standard, I hold myself responsible to the same rules I hold others.


I accept the responsibility for my own ethics, and I hold others to the same standards accordingly.


I do not judge anyone by a harsher set of standards than I judge myself.

I'm not sure if you'll like any of those, but I hope the thoughts are helpful. Thanks for the question.

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I think I agree with Steve, you don't generally "hold someone to account" you "hold someone accountable." If you were asking for more alternatives I'd rather use

"I measure general public accountability with the same ethical yardstick that I measure mine".

"The contours of my judgement are not flexible for anyone, not even for me" although the latter sounds relatively scripted and dramatically tainted, it could be of use depending on the scenario or situation.

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