Recently a couple of readers wrote to Dictionary.com with an issue they had with one of our slideshows from a few years ago. They objected to the following sentence: “Speakers tend to use [obviously]…to emphasize their point with regards to things that aren’t necessarily obvious…”
Our users told us that the phrases with regards to and in regards to are incorrect, and instead they should be with regard to and in regard to without the s. Were our readers right about this correction?
Yes and no. Historically the phrases with regard to and in regard to have been preferred, with the variants with regards to and in regards to being considered nonstandard or regional. However, in recent years, these once unfavored variants have risen drastically in usage, especially in regards to, which, according to our data, is used nearly twice as often as in regard to.
Before our users drew our attention to this grammar point, we were unaware of it. However, we’ve now added regard to our list of entries to be updated. If you’re torn about which variant to use, and you’re writing in an informal setting, you could always use the abbreviation favored by David Foster Wallace: w/r/t. Which variant do you prefer?