Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Regard or regards?

Thank you for your e-mail. In regards to your question, no, unfortunately that item is currently out of stock.
Is the word regard singular or plural in constructions like the one above?

Regard means attention, which is a noun that English speakers normally don’t count. Thus, attention paid to something—or attention given—will probably never take a final -s. You may pay close attention a number of times to a weaving car on the road in front of you, but you’re not paying attentions to a crazy driver. You’re being careful. You're paying attention. The words attention and regard are synonyms and never take a final -s.

I suspect people say (and write) with regards to and in regards to because they’re thinking of the plural construction used for greetings, as when you say,
Send Barbara my regards, will you?
And this is a perfectly legitimate exception to the no final -s rule. But in the strictest sense, this isn’t an exception: regards (meaning greetings) and regard (meaning attention) are two different words. The second one never takes a plural -s form.

So make a habit of using with regard to or in regard to (or simply concerning). It makes a difference.

No comments: