You may have noticed some people using regard and regards interchangeably—and it makes your inner grammar geek shriek as you clutch your well-worn copy of Elements of Style. Then there’s the common confusion about when to use in regard to, in regards to, or as regards. While these phrases are often pooh-poohed as overly formal business jargon, the proofreaders at Writer’s Relief are here to clear up any questions regarding these tricky expressions.
How To Use Regards, In Regard To, With Regard To, And As Regards
Regards: Give my regards to Broadway! “Regards” when pluralized in this sense means “best wishes.”
In regard to and with regard to: These both mean regarding, concerning, or on the subject of. So, in regard to following pesky grammatical rules, especially rules with regard to word choice, either phrase works.
As regards: This can be used to introduce a topic: “As regards the proliferation of bullfrogs in the pond, we have decided to issue a proclamation banning lily pads.”
Note: Many people pluralize “regard” as in “in regards to” or “with regards to.” Pluralization is unnecessary, although the phrase could be used to imply best wishes: “With regard to Jim’s book, we are hoping for a big turnout” means we are talking about Jim’s book. “With regards to Jim, we hope his book signing is a success” means we wish Jim well.
So…the singular regard is correct in phrases like with regard to and in regard to, meaning with reference to, while the plural regards expresses respect, affection, or condolences. However, like many of these grammatical distinctions, “regards” is often seen used (with regards to or in regards to) in national publications, leading many people to believe that either way is acceptable. (Upon reading the previous statement, our editor immediately fainted!)
Our suggestion? Stick to the singular version unless you’re sending best wishes to someone or introducing a topic. Even better? Replace these unwieldy phrases with concerning, regarding, about, in, and with.
- Dear Joan: This note is in regard to your request to bring in your cat, Bob, on “Bring Your Pet To Work Day,” which we will allow.
- To all employees: In light of recent events, we’ve reassessed our position with regard to allowing Joan to bring her cat to work, as it was actually a bobcat.
- As regards bringing pets to work: We will now only permit domesticated animals. P.S. Jen’s Chihuahua, Mr. Hercules, is still unaccounted for.
- Dear Kevin: We send our best regards and hope your pet tarantula, Tickles, enjoys a speedy recovery! Again, Stephanie apologizes for repeatedly swatting Tickles with the dictionary.
QUESTION: What tricky phrases trip YOU up?