As you get better at English, there are some phrases that you may hear and wonder if they’re correct or even when they would be appropriate to use. An example of this is “according to me” — is it correct and, if so, when should one use it?
The phrase “according to me” is not technically wrong, but people often use it incorrectly. “According to” is most often a way of reporting something an authority or another person stated, so it would be unusual to report something you said yourself. It’s almost always better to say “in my opinion.” However, there are some specific situations when you could use “according to me.”
This article will explore the phrase “according to” and whether we can say “according to me.” We’ll examine where “according to” originated as well as when to use it and when other alternatives may be preferable.
Defining “According to”
The word “according” dates back to Middle English in the 1300s when it meant “matching” or “corresponding.” The phrase “according to” emerged later in the 14th century and meant “in a manner agreeing with,” a definition that still holds true today (source).
It’s rooted in the word “accord,” which means “agreement” when we use it as a noun and “to come to an agreement” when we use it as a verb. It originates from the Latin “accordare,” meaning “to be of one heart.”
There are some nuances in the definition of “according to,” which we can summarize in the following three definitions (source):
- In conformity with
- As stated by
- Depending on
Let’s consider how we may use “according to” with each of these definitions in mind.
- He always behaves according to the rules.
- He always behaves in conformity with the rules.
- According to Jack, they fired Jill for embezzling funds.
- As stated by Jack, they fired Jill for embezzling funds.
- They place students in groups according to their academic performance.
- They placed students in groups depending on their academic performance.
Can You Say “According to Me?”
Having understood the meaning of “according to,” we can now ask whether it’s correct to say “according to me.” Usually, when someone says, “according to me,” they actually mean to say “in my opinion.” Thus, although similar, the two phrases are not identical.
“According to” implies that you are either giving a source of some information or that you are reporting what someone else stated. It would be odd to report something you said yourself or imply that you are the expert source of some information in this manner.
You may hear people, especially those who don’t know English well, say things such as:
- According to me, Jack was sad because he failed the test.
- That is the best restaurant in town, according to me.
Both these sentences are not technically wrong, but it’s just not how people generally speak.
How then do you indicate that something is your opinion? In both cases, it would be better to use phrases such as “in my opinion” or “in my view” because they clearly state that you are offering your view of things (source), as you can see below.
- In my opinion, Jack was sad because he failed the test.
- That is the best restaurant in town, in my view.
You could also use “I think” or “I reckon” to indicate that something is your opinion.
- I think Jack was sad because he failed the test.
- I reckon that is the best restaurant in town.
According to Me or My
The only time where you might use “according to” in reference to yourself would be when you are specifically referring to a source. In this case, you would say something like:
- According to my calculations, we each owe $200.
- There were 10 people in the meeting, according to my notes.
Here we are citing “my calculations” or “my notes” rather than just “me.” We still don’t say “according to me” because we generally don’t reference ourselves like that.
However, the Corpus of Contemporary American English contains 87 occurrences of “according to me,” so it’s still a phrase that you may come across (source).
People often use it tongue-in-cheek when they want to refute something someone stated “according to” somebody or something else, as in the exchanges below.
Person 1: According to the rules, we can’t be in this area.
Person 2: Well, according to me, we have every right to be here!
Person 1: It’s bedtime now, according to Dad.
Person 2: There’s no bedtime, according to me!
How to Give Credit to A Source
You may wonder, “How do you give credit to a source?” This context is the primary application for using “according to.” Usually, if you see someone use “according to” in a sentence, it indicates where the information originated. The source can be a book, a person, or some other resource. Consider the examples below.
- According to his research, dogs are more likely to suffer from this disease than cats.
- According to the professor, this was the most popular course last semester.
- You should take two tablets per day, according to the package instructions.
In formal writing, it’s essential to credit sources. If you cite someone directly, there are specific rules about how to reference your source.
However, even when paraphrasing the thoughts or research of other experts, it’s still vital to avoid plagiarism and acknowledge where the information comes from. In this case, it’s often helpful to use “according to” when summarizing someone else’s material.
In this context, you may reference someone else’s work similarly to the examples below.
According to Smith (1987), this method is unlikely to be successful for first-time learners.
According to research conducted by Jones & Marshall, most samples showed an improvement in texture within seven days.
Diabetic patients are at higher risk of this condition, according to Anderson (2008).
There are various styles for citing particular sources, including such academic styles as the Chicago Manual of Style, the American Psychological Association Style, and the Modern Language Association Style, to name a few.
Alternatives to “According to”
Depending on the context of your sentence and the specific nuance of your use of “according to,” there are many alternatives that you can use.
If we are crediting a source, some of the alternatives include:
- As claimed by
- In the opinion of
- On the authority of
- As believed by
- On the report of
We could substitute any of these for “according to” in the sentences below.
- According to his research, the drug has no adverse effects during pregnancy.
- She will appear before the tribunal next week, according to the club secretary.
If we are saying that something was in keeping with something else, then some alternatives include:
- In line with
- Consistent with
- In keeping with
- In compliance with
- In obedience to
Again, we could substitute any of these for “according to” in the sentences below.
- We played the game according to the rules.
- According to legislation, only 50 people may enter this building at one time.
If we are rather using “according to” in the sense of “in relation to,” then some alternatives include:
- Relative to
- Depending on
- Proportional to
- Commensurate with
We could easily insert these in the following sentences in this particular context instead of . “according to.”
- The price will vary according to the quantity that you order.
- They ranked the players according to their individual abilities.
What Part of Speech Is “According To”?
You may wonder what role “according to” plays in a sentence. It is a preposition, making connections between words by showing a relationship between a noun or pronoun and something else in the sentence. Prepositions are one of the eight basic parts of speech in the English language.
In case you’re wondering, the other seven are nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and interjections.
A preposition is a word or group of words that shows direction, place, time, or introduces an object. Without prepositions, we would struggle to communicate because we use them all the time to link nouns, pronouns, and verbs in sentences.
Broadly speaking, we use prepositions to do one of the following:
- Show location
- Show time
- Show connections between ideas
Prepositions That Show Location
Many prepositions function to show where a noun is in space. These include words or phrases like “across,” “next to,” “through,” “over,” etc. Consider the following examples that all show spatial relationships.
- The dog is under the table.
- Please help get this bee off me.
- He’s waiting at the restaurant.
- Place the chairs along the table.
Prepositions That Show Time
We use various prepositions to show when something happens. These relationships of time include words like before, after, at, during, etc. Consider the following examples that all show temporal relationships.
- Please come for dinner at 6 p.m.
- The match will begin after the anthem is sung.
- World War II took place from 1939 to 1945.
- I won’t leave until I’ve finished dessert.
Prepositions That Show Connections
We use prepositions to create logical relationships between things. These include words like except, for, like, such as, with, etc. Consider the following examples that all show temporal relationships.
- They had a discussion about the new rules.
- She works as a fitness instructor.
- Jack reminds me of my favorite cousin.
- I would love to go to New York.
“According to” is a preposition that shows connections between things. Consider the examples below to understand how the item that follows “according to” links to the rest of the sentence.
- According to Jane, the department won’t be hiring anyone else.
- They will rank them according to their GPA.
- I expect everything to go according to plan.
Now that you know what prepositions are, you’ll be aware of how many there are and how often we use them. In fact, there are very few English sentences that don’t contain at least one preposition.
Most prepositions are a single word, but others are two or more words. We still classify these as prepositions because we always use them together for that particular meaning. An example of this is “according to.”
Below is a table of some of the most common English prepositions.
Is “in Accordance With” the Same as “According To”?
You may hear people using the phrase “in accordance with” and wonder if it has the same meaning as “according to.” Although these two phrases sound similar and are rooted in the same word, “accord,” they do not have quite the same meaning.
We use “in accordance with” if we’re referring to something that we are complying with. This could be something like a law, a contract, or a request. People usually use it in a formal context, and it’s something you’re unlikely to hear in everyday conversation. The sentences below show examples of how you might hear someone use this phrase.
- His fortune will be left to the state library in accordance with his wishes.
- In accordance with the law, no civilian may enter this crime scene.
- The army advanced in accordance with the general’s instructions.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
It’s worth noting that some people may use “in accordance to” in sentences such as these. This is incorrect and is not standard English usage (source). Click here to read more about this particular topic, “In Accordance With” or “In Accordance To”: Which is Correct?
Understanding where words come from helps us to use them correctly. Now that we know where the preposition “according to” originated and the various nuanced meanings it can have, it’s easier to understand why it doesn’t sound right to say “according to me.”
We mostly use “according to” in everyday speech to credit the source of something we may have heard or read. In this context, we’re using it to mean “as stated by.” We may also use it to mean “in conformity with” or “depending on.”
To say “according to me,” while not grammatically wrong, is not common usage, and it would be better to say “in my opinion” or something similar.