Hold 'Regard' in High Regard
Published in The Word Guy
Q: I use the phrase "in regard to your question," but I frequently read and hear others using "in regards to your question." Which of these is correct? -- Lisa Piechowski, Glastonbury, Connecticut
A: "Regard" is always the right choice when you mean "in reference to" or "regarding." Usage expert Bryan Garner describes "in regards to" as "unacceptable in standard usage." Even the usually permissive Webster's Dictionary of English Usage sniffs, "'In regards to' seems to be an expression heard chiefly from those who speak H. L. Mencken's 'vulgate.'" Oh, dear.
My own hunch is that people replace "regard" with "regards" because they're so familiar with the phrase "best regards," meaning "best wishes," as in "Give my regards to Broadway."
(It's important to note that "regards" is fine in the idiomatic phrase "as regards," meaning "with reference to," e.g., "As regards this issue, all usage authorities agree with me.")
If you find yourself stuck between a rock and a "regard/regards" place, consider replacing the wordy phrases "in regard to," "with regard to" and "as regards" with a single word, such as "regarding," "concerning," "about" or "on," e.g., "regarding this issue," "on this matter."
Q: I've begun talking to my cats the way I used to talk to my kids when they were young. I find myself using "we" where "you" would normally be used, as in "What did we do with our mousie?" or "Aren't we the prettiest girl?" Does this kind of usage fall into a category that has a name? Or am I the weirdest guy on the planet? -- Man Who Talks to Cats, Princeton, New Jersey
A: I'll answer your last question first: The Martians in Orson Welles' 1938 radio play "War of the Worlds" landed just 11 miles from Princeton, New Jersey. 'Nuff said.
Your sweetie-pie use of "we" has a parallel in the royal "we" ("We are not amused"), which indicates that a monarch represents God and/or the entire government -- or perhaps simply that he or she has worms. Even non-monarchs get in on the act; in 1989 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher joyfully announced, "We have become a grandmother."
There's also the editorial "we" ("We endorse Tweedledum"). And there's the wee "we" ("Mommy, we have to go potty").
But there's really no term for the patronizing, infantilizing "we" to which you refer, e.g., "How are we feeling today?" "Did we have a nice nap?"
Until now! I hereby dub this "we" of cloying smarminess "the cloyal we." Does this make our little Martian happy?
Rob Kyff, a teacher and writer in West Hartford, Connecticut, invites your language sightings. His book, "Mark My Words," is available for $9.99 on Amazon.com. Send your reports of misuse and abuse, as well as examples of good writing, via email to WordGuy@aol.com or by regular mail to Rob Kyff, Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, California, 90254.
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