Grammar 101 with Michael Kwan

Is “irregardless” a real word? Should I be using “supposably” under any circumstances? Even though you may hear these words on television or in movies, you might not want to use them.


A Google search for “irregardless” yields over two million results. According to Wikipedia, “irregardless” is an “informal” term that is usually listed as “nonstandard.” The entry asserts that it’s not necessarily “incorrect or not a word.” Even so, because it is “nonstandard,” it is in your best interest to avoid using “irregardless” in any kind of remotely formal setting.

Instead, if you’re going after the meaning of “without regard,” it is much more appropriate to use “regardless” or “irrespective.”

Irrespective of the consequences, John sold all his Apple stock.

I’m going to buy the new iPhone regardless of the price.

Part of the reason why “irregardless” is considered nonstandard is that it has two negative elements: ir- and -less. This double negative is almost akin to saying, “I don’t want no fights,” which would then really mean, “I want fights.” It’s likely that many people use “irregardless” due to over-correction, much like the confusion that surrounds the proper usage of me, myself, and I.


You may remember this scene from Friends where Joey Tribbiani wonders whether “supposably” is a real word. The short answer is, for the most part, it’s not a term you should be using.

We oftentimes mishear words in passing and then we try to fill in the gaps with pre-existing knowledge. The suffix -ably is quite common, like in the word “probably.” However, when most people say “supposably,” they really mean to say “supposedly.” This is much the same kind of confusion that leads people to say “exspecially” or “expresso,” when they really mean to say “especially” and “espresso.”

Mispronunciation Leads to Misspelling

When words are pronounced incorrectly, they are oftentimes spelled incorrectly too. For instance, February should be pronounced “feb-broo-ary,” but you’ll hear many people say “feb-you-ary” (which is wrong). This might lead them to write it as Febuary (which is wrong). They forget about the R in there. The same can be said about jewelry, which should be pronounced as “jool-ree” and not “joo-lah-ree.” There is no A between the L and R. And let’s not forget about nuclear: it’s “nu-klee-er” and not “nu-cue-ler.” Look at the order of the letters there, Dubya.

And that’s largely how “irregardless” and “supposably” came to be. Now that you know, though, please stop mispronouncing and misspelling them.