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Irregardless vs. Regardless (Which is Correct?)

Irregardless vs. regardless



“Irregardless” vs “regardless”

There’s no better time to write your grammatical wrongs—on the debate of irregardless vs. regardless—if you’ve been under the impression that the word “irregardless” uses correct English, then read this post to learn why you should avoid its use completely.


Though technically a word that exists (itself a matter of contention), and is defined across dictionaries, irregardless is redundant and seen as “nonstandard” (we get into what this means). The consensus is that you should use regardless instead.



Is “irregardless” a real word?

Some are emphatic that irregardless is not a real word, and that it doesn’t exist. Here at Grammarflex, we don’t claim to the be arbiters on the existence of words; however, there appears to be a need for clarification.

It’s counterintuitive, but words can not make sense and still exist at the same time. People still use these words, however frustrating this may be to more discerning ears. Most major dictionaries recognize irregardless as a word, though almost unanimously advise against its use.



The meaning of regardless

Regardless looks like an adjective, but (based on my investigative research) most sources claim regardless is an adverb (except for etymonline.com/regardless). Either way, the word is made up of two parts: regard + less. The suffix –less is from from Old English -leas, meaning “lacking, cannot be, does not” (this is also according to etymonline on regardless). Regard comes from Old French regard, meaning “a consideration; a judgment”.


When we combine the base words together we get “without consideration or judgment”. Oxford Learner’s Dictionary categorizes regardless as an adverb, and defines it as, “paying no attention, even if the situation is bad or there are difficulties”; e.g., the weather was terrible but we carried on regardless.



Why is “irregardless” advised against?

When you look up the word “irregardless“, almost all dictionaries label it as “nonstandard”. But what does that mean? Words that are nonstandard are seen as, “not conforming in pronunciation, grammatical construction, idiom, or word choice to the usage generally characteristic of educated native speakers of a language.” (Merriam-Webster, nonstandard).


In short, once a word is ‘nonstandard’, it’s generally advised against using. That said, there must be a reason which points to its nonstandard-ness, or explains why it’s not accepted. In the case of irregardless, it has to do with the double-negative construction of the prefix ir- with the suffix -less: ir- means “not,” while the suffix -less means “without”. This gives us “not without regard”, which is the opposite of the word’s intended meaning. Because of the double-negative, irregardless literally means to give something regard, which directly contrasts with how the word is used (i.e., to add emphasis).


The upshot is that irregardless is advised against because the word does not make sense, and consequently has a reputation for raising the hackles of English speakers and grammarians alike.



Regardless of

It’s common to see regardless used with “of” to form a prepositional phrase, e.g., “regardless of x”. The meaning of regardless as a prepositional phrase is similar to its meaning as a standalone adverb/word. “Irregardless of” is incorrect.

I go to the gym every day, regardless of how I’m feeling.

We bought the house regardless of the current housing market conditions.

He smoked cigars regardless of the consequences.



Common consensus on the use of “irregardless”

The hilarious part about the word irregardless is reading all of the hot-takes online arguing over its use, of which there are a dime a dozen. People are passionate about their distaste of the word irregardless—take a look:

irregardless certainly is a word. It has been in use for well over 200 years, employed by a large number of people across a wide geographic range and with a consistent meaning. That is why we, and well-nigh every other dictionary of modern English, define this word. Remember that a definition is not an endorsement of a word’s use.—Merriam-Webster.

“Irregardless” is sometimes used instead of regardless. While “irregardless” may be used in informal contexts, it is considered nonstandard and should be avoided in formal or academic writing.—Scribbr.com

Irregardless is a nonstandard synonym for regardless…—Dictionary.com

Clearly, if enough people use a word–including irregardless–it is a word. But clearly anyone who uses the word irregardless is an idiot.—Chris Taylor, The Guardian.



Sentences with regardless from the media

But regardless, our determination to get people back is manifested every single day in our efforts to do just that. (Jennifer Pereira, ABC News, 3 Nov. 2023)

Your brand new Tatcha products will stunning on your vanity regardless, but the Obon Tray adds that wow factor to any shelfie. (Annie Blackman, Allure, 28 Nov. 2023)



Other example sentences with regardless

  • The weather looked bad, but they were resolved to go on with their picnic regardless.
  • The plan for a new office building went ahead regardless of local opposition.
  • This job is open to all, regardless of previous experience.
  • Regardless of what you think, I believe she’s the best person for the job.
  • Despite her recent surgery she has been carrying on regardless.



Synonyms of regardless

  • despite everything
  • in spite of everything
  • anyhow
  • anyway
  • nevertheless
  • nonetheless
  • in any case
  • after everything



Read about other confusing words

Commonly misused wordsUK English vs. US English
former vs. latterburned or burnt?
bear with vs. bare withcolor or colour?
breathe or breathfavorite vs. favourite
compliment vs. complementsmelled or smelt?
effect vs. affectgray or grey?
elude or alludefavor vs. favour
it’s or itsanalyze or analyse?



Sources

  1. “Regardless.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, regardless. Accessed 12 Dec. 2023.
  2. “Regardless” Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, Accessed 13 Dec. 2023.
  3. “Nonstandard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nonstandard. Accessed 13 Dec. 2023.


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