LawProse Lesson #102

Is it correct to say in regards to or with regards to? ANSWER: No. Although we say with best regards and warmest regards, traditional English idiom demands in regard to and with regard to. Putting an s on these last two phrases has conventionally been considered poor usage. Oddly, it is proper and traditional to say or write as regards <The witness didn’t testify as regards the defendant’s motive>. But as with in regard to and with regard to, substituting concerning or regarding or about for as regards improves the prose <The witness didn’t testify regarding [or about] the defendant’s motive>. On this topic, the venerable Arthur Quiller-Couch said in 1916: “Train your suspicions to bristle up whenever you come upon as regards, with regard to, in respect of, in connection with, according as to whether, and the like. They are all dodges of jargon, circumlocutions for evading this or that simple statement . . . . You should never use them.” Quiller-Couch didn’t even deign to mention the nonstandard forms ending with s. Some snoots (people who care about good usage) believe that Mitt Romney’s addiction to the semiliterate phrasing *with regards to lost him a high percentage of independent voters. If so, it was a terrible price to pay for linguistic heedlessness. Best regards. B.A.G. *Invariably inferior forms. Sources: Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 84, 762-63 (3d ed. 2011). Garner’s Modern American Usage 69, 703-04 (3d ed. 2009). Arthur Quiller-Couch, On the Art of Writing 114 (1916).

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