The Vine: January 25, 2012
If I am describing how something relates to another thing, I generally use "in relation to" or "in respect of." However, I keep seeing the phrase "with respect to" used in the same way. My boss actually changed some a sentence recently to use "with respect to" rather than "in respect of" in this way: "an indication of what is to come with respect to a strategic, regional or landscape approach."
I think "with respect to" means something different to "in respect of." Like, you are giving actual respect to something or someone, not describing how something relates to another thing.
Am I in the wrong here?
In other words, is it "Our conclusion was influenced by consultation undertaken in respect of the Tomato Nation" or "Our conclusion was influenced by consultation undertaken with respect to the Tomato Nation"? I am not talking about the respect given to the Tomato Nation during that consultation, but rather that the Tomato Nation was the subject of the consultation.
Thanks so much,
My first instinct is twofold: 1) neither phrase has much to do with "respect" in the sense of esteem; 2) "in respect of" sounds like a clanky overcorrection to me, and I would change it to "with respect to" or "regarding" in any document in which I found it.
But your original letter placed terminal punctuation outside of quotation marks, which indicates that I shouldn't necessarily look to American English for an answer here. To the Google-ator! Among the things I found:
- a definition of "respect" that mentioned "with respect to," but not "in respect of"
- Wiki Answers lists "in respect of" as chiefly a British usage
- Merriam-Webster does the same
- …et cetera and so on
Garner expresses neither a preference for either phrasing nor an opinion on differing meanings, merely noting that either phrasing is better replaced with a single preposition. (Did you know you can follow him on Twitter? You can. You're welcome.)
So, shows what I know. I still don't believe there's any meaningful difference between the versions of the phrase; it's a matter of regional usage. I would advise you to rewrite that sentence entirely so it's less garbage-y corporate, to wit: "A consultation on the Tomato Nation influenced our conclusion."
The short version: the phrase itself is not wrong. Your interpretation of it as differing from the alternative is probably fictional.