Regular readers* of this blog probably realize by now that I often react to poor usage almost as I do to the sound of fingernails on a blackboard. So – Surprise! Surprise! – here’s something else that bothers me: seeing “regards” written in place of “regard.” One extra letter makes a big difference.
The error usually happens when the writer wants to say “in regard to” – meaning “about,” “regarding” or “in connection with.” First, I should point out that “in regard to” is a little long-winded. And windiness is something writers should avoid if they don’t want to bore their readers or tire them out. “About” or “regarding” are shorter alternatives to “in regard to.” But if you’re determined to use this longer phrase, for heaven’s sake don’t tack on that extra S.
Why? Because “regard” and “regards” have different meanings. While “regard” means “about,” “regards” is typically used to convey a greeting. When you’re talking to a friend on the phone and want to convey your best wishes to his or her spouse, you might say, “Give my regards to Gladys (or Marvin).” Perhaps the best-known example of such a use is the title of the old song, Give My Regards to Broadway.
So if you hold the proper meaning of words in high regard (i.e., high esteem – still another meaning of “regard”) you’ll refrain from writing “in regards to.”
* I think I have some regular readers, but it would be greatly reassuring and immensely gratifying to see comments on my weekly posts (and/or on my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter notices that I’ve made a blog post) more frequently! Thanks, friends!