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“In Accordance With” or “In Accordance To”: Which is Correct?

Many people believe that we can use these phrases interchangeably, but that is not true. As is always the case with English, there are nuances and exceptions we have to understand to ensure a flawless command of the language.

It’s correct to say “in accordance with” if we’re referring to something that we are complying with, such as a law, a contract, or a request. The phrase “in accordance to,” although sometimes seen in informal speech, is grammatically incorrect. It’s usually mistakenly used instead of “according to,” which refers to your information source.

In this article, we’ll unpack the phrases “in accordance with” and “according to” and the differences in their usage. We’ll also look at other prepositions and consider their role in language.

Using prepositions correctly allows us to use language fully and create more profound levels of meaning.

Accordance and According

Both words are rooted in the word “accord,” which, as a noun, means a pact or agreement, and, as a verb, means to come into agreement or to consent (source). 

It comes from the Latin word accordare, which translates as “to be of one heart.” There is evidence for the use of the word as far back as the twelfth century.

“Accordance” is a noun, and it refers to following or obeying something. “According” is the present participle of “accord,” describing the action of agreeing.

Once we combine these two words with the relevant preposition, they form another preposition with its own distinct meaning. To understand this properly, let’s look at prepositions and the role they play.

Prepositions

Prepositions are one of the eight basic parts of speech in the English language. If you are wondering, the other seven are nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and interjections. 

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They are generally little words, but they play a very important role, indicating either place or time (source). On their own, they determine time and place, but when paired with a noun or pronoun, they link the parts of the sentence together.

Consider the examples below, where the preposition is in bold type. You will see how much information they add to each sentence.

The spider is in my shoe 

Here, ‘in” is a preposition of place, providing information on the spider’s whereabouts.

The burglar is on the roof. Preposition of place, where is the burglar?

Here, “on” is a preposition of place, providing information on the burglar’s position.

I will have a drink at noon.

Here “at” is a preposition of time, providing information on when I will have a drink. 

Prepositions typically precede a noun or pronoun and describe that word’s relation to another part of the sentence, as in the examples below.

The cat hid under the bed.

Here the word “under” links the cat and the bed and is a preposition of place.

The thunder roared throughout the night.

Here the word “throughout” links the thunder and night and is a preposition of time.

I went to the game with Jack.

Here the word “with” links Jack and me and is a preposition of place.

Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases refer to phrases that contain a preposition and a noun or pronoun. These phrases make up everyday language and some examples follow below, with the prepositional phrases underlined.

  • After several hours, they were rescued from the lake.
  • The flock of birds flew over the rooftops.
  • We drove to the movies.

Any noun in the prepositional phrase must be the object of the preposition. If it is the verb’s object, then it is not part of the prepositional phrase (source).

Common Prepositions

There are so many prepositions in English because there are so many ways of specifying time and place. Some prepositions are more than a single word, but we classify them as a preposition because they are always used together in their particular meaning.

Below is a list of some of the most common prepositions used in English:

onoffalongacross
as fornextthroughof
asalong with apart fromabout
about aroundaccording toagainst
afterto upwithin
in spite ofatoutbehind
pastout ofby means ofbetween
beforebeneathbeyondbeside
duringexcept forunderdown
belowbyover inside
underneathexceptroundfrom
outside toward withoutin addition to
inintountillike
because ofwithconcerningfor 
nearinstead ofin front ofin
sincedespitethroughoutonto
in accordance withnotwithstandingregardingvia

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

In formal English, we are always told not to end a sentence with a preposition. However, that can make for very clunky sentences, and these days, especially in everyday speech, it is now considered acceptable. 

Consider the following sentence:

That is something I cannot agree with.

If we rewrite it without ending in “with,” we’re forced to say:

That is something with which I cannot agree. 

It sounds very awkward, and you would do better to avoid it if possible!

For more information on the myriad English usage rules, consult Dreyer’s English or the New Oxford Essential Dictionary.

You can purchase both books on Amazon, and they contain a wealth of knowledge to satisfy virtually any question you could have regarding the English language.

You can also read “In Spite or Inspite: Which is Correct?” on another tricky grammatical topic.

“In Accordance With”

By placing the noun “accordance” between the words “in” and “with,” we create the preposition “in accordance with.” Another way of expressing this would be “in a way that agrees with.” We generally use it in a formal context and only regarding true information.

The examples below show how “in accordance with” is used in a sentence and how it has to be followed by the rule or request that the subject is complying or agreeing with.

  • His fortune was left to the university in accordance with his wishes.
  • The soldiers invaded the camp in accordance with their instructions. 
  • In accordance with safety regulations, only ten people are allowed in the elevator.

We used the preposition “in accordance with” to show connections. In this instance, it links the accordance and that with which it is in agreement. In the examples above, it is with his wishes, their instructions, and safety regulations. 

“According To”

Although we sometimes see it in colloquial expressions, the phrase “in accordance to” is not standard English usage (source).

We should rather use the preposition “according to” if we mean “as stated by” or “in a manner corresponding to or depending on.”

Look at the sentences below to see how we used it to restate something someone else has already said or observed. In these cases, it’s being used to report or introduce information or hearsay.

  • According to Jack, this was the best movie of the year.
  • You’ve missed class five times, according to my records.
  • The house should be around the next corner, according to my map.

Similarly, we can use “according to” to describe how an action happens in a way that agrees with something else. We illustrate this context in the sentences below.

  • Everything at the event went according to plan.
  • They need to play the game according to the rules.
  • The children were arranged according to their height.

One possible mistake for an English language learner to make would be to say, “according to me.” In this context, we’d be using the preposition to mean “as stated by,” and it seems odd to talk about yourself in the third person like that. 

If you’re trying to state what you think about something, it’s better to say “in my opinion” or “in my view.” You could even state it more simply, and say, “I think” or “I believe” as in the examples below.

  • Incorrect: According to me, children should be seen and not heard.
  • Correct: In my opinion, children should be seen and not heard.
  • Correct: I believe children should be seen and not heard.

Punctuating These Prepositions

The generally accepted rule is that when a sentence begins with “in accordance with” or “according to,” we follow that clause with a comma.

This punctuation allows clarity around where that clause ends, and the main clause of the sentence begins. Look at the examples below:

  • According to recent statistics, only 40% of the public turned out to vote.
  • According to Mary, the neighbors have left town.
  • In accordance with her contract, she was paid out for the next eighteen months.
  • In accordance with regulations, they had an engineer survey the electricity supply.

You will agree that the comma makes these sentences easier to read and understand. However, if the preposition comes after the main clause, then a comma is not necessary. Consider the same sentences when we turn them around:

  • Only 40% of the public turned out to vote according to recent statistics.
  • The neighbors have left town, according to Mary.
  • An engineer surveyed the electricity supply in accordance with regulations.
  • She was paid out for the next 18 months in accordance with her contract.

Alternative Expressions

Both “in accordance with” and “according to” are widely used expressions. The latter, especially, is used regularly in everyday conversation. But what if you wanted to say the same thing using different words?

Instead of “In Accordance With”

Many individuals think this conjunction is overly wordy and formal, so they try to avoid using it. It’s still appropriate in legal or formal settings, but you can replace it with some alternatives in spoken language or more informal contexts.

These include “per,” “following,” and “under,” as illustrated in the examples below where the italicized words could be replaced by “in accordance with.”

  • Under the new regulations, all employees are now entitled to work from home.
  • She selected those hymns following her mother’s wishes. 
  • He concluded the contracts per his employer’s instructions.

In a legal context, one can use the word “pursuant to” in place of “in accordance with.” This usage is very formal, and we do not use it often today. Additionally, it can also mean “further to” and introduce confusion. Nonetheless, we illustrate its use in the sentences below.

  • She objected to her termination pursuant to clause 23 of her contract.
  • Pursuant to the agreement, no further matters can be raised for consideration.

Instead of “according to”

There are many more ways of saying “according to” because it’s such a commonly used phrase. It depends on the context as to which one you would choose.

If you wanted to mean “as stated by,” you could use that or some of these examples:

  • As reported by
  • As attested by
  • On the authority of
  • On the word of
  • In line with
  • As per
  • In the opinion of

You could trade any one of these for “according to” in the following sentence:

  • My business will break even this year, according to my accountant.

If you wanted to mean “in a manner corresponding with,” you could use some of these examples:

  • In keeping with
  • As per
  • In line with
  • In assent with
  • Consistent with

You could trade any of these for “according to” in the following sentence:

  • We need a pound of chocolate to make those cookies according to the recipe.

Finally, if you wanted to mean “depending on,” you could use that or any one of these examples:

  • Relative to
  • In line with
  • In relation to
  • In keeping with
  • Proportionate to

You could trade any of these for “according to” in the following sentence:

  • The children lined up for the photograph according to their height.

Final Thoughts

These are both useful and descriptive prepositions that you need to examine carefully if you are going to use them properly. As with many English expressions, understanding the context is essential when deciding which words to use.

Hopefully, we’ve shown that the terms are not interchangeable, even if they’re often misused. 

What’s important to remember is that “in accordance with” is generally used in a formal context to introduce something that conforms with a formal agreement. “According to” is used more often in everyday speech and is mostly used to restate something you’ve heard or read. 

What’s important to remember is that “in accordance with” is generally used in a formal context to introduce something that conforms with a formal agreement. We more often use “According to” in everyday speech, mostly to restate something we’ve heard or read.