Is it grammatical to say "according to the law" instead of "according the law"?

If so, is there any difference in meaning?

  • 4
    I believe you want to ask if it is "grammatically correct" to say... I don't think "is it grammatical to say" carries the right meaning. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 7:18
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    @MuhammadbinYusrat yes it does, actually. Something can be grammatical or not. It's an adjective, just like any other.
    – terdon
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 8:17
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    It would be better if you could show a complete example sentence - a few words out of context can be very ambiguous in English! Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 14:05
  • 3
    To illustrate how important the example sentence is, suppose you had incorrectly extracted this phrase from its context as suggested in one of the answers below? You would then be told the wrong meaning of what you had read. In such cases not only do you need an example sentence, it must be the same sentence in which you encountered the sequence of words.
    – David K
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 14:09
  • 4
    The question definitely needs some context; that is, was there some particular text where "according the law" was used?
    – robin
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 20:24

5 Answers 5


When an average person hears the words according and law, the first thing that probably comes to their mind is the expression according to the law. So, no, according the law is incorrect. You should always say according to the law. according to something is actually a set phrase in English and you just can't leave the to out from it. It's part of the expression and therefore it must be there. Nor can you say according of the law. Again, that's just incorrect grammar.

However, according the law would still be grammatically correct, but it would mean a completely different thing. In this case, according is the present participle of the verb to accord which means to give or grant something to someone. For example:

Accord the law the necessary status in society is a task of the highest priority if we are to build a fair and just legal system.

  • 22
    We don't always say "according to the law"; sometimes we say "according to law".
    – rjpond
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 8:05
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    I think I've heard "according to law" once or twice, but I don't think this is a common phrasing. It might be British though. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 8:48
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    On the very reasonable assumption that the questioner thinks "according the law" means the same as 'according to the law" (which it doesn't) this is a good answer. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 15:06
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    @DawoodibnKareem A possible reason "according to law" would rank higher could be that it lends itself to more phrases, such as "according to law professionals," "according to law books," "according to law theory." Furthermore, I would consider both of those to be valid usages, but with slight differences that render them subtly more or less appropriate, based on the context. The question here is more about "according to (noun with or without article)" versus "according (noun with or without article)." Obviously, the latter is incorrect in all scenarios.
    – bubbleking
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 20:34
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    "According the law" would be correct in some constructions, e.g. "While I favor according the law a great deal of deference, this decision is unjust." That's unlikely to be what the asker was looking for, but there also isn't any context.
    – fectin
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 18:18

In the usual context of these words, as others have pointed out, one invariably says 'according to the law'.

However, you can use 'according the law', just not in the context you're referring to. To illustrate:

In areas of open lawlessness, according the law the respect it deserves can be difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

This obviously uses 'according' as a verb, not a preposition as in the example sentences.

I mention this usage as I don't think "No, according the law is completely incorrect," or "Only “according to the law” is correct" are entirely correct.

Kevin notes: This usage is dated and seldom used anymore.

  • 16
    This seems a stretch to me; yes, the words are in the order specified in the question, but "according the law" is not a phrase in this sentence, only "according X the respect it deserves", with X substituted for "the law". There are many coincidences of word order like this, and if this quote was in the question, the answer would still be that "according the law" is not a grammatical phrase, and the sentence has been parsed wrong if that "phrase" was picked out.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 9:27
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    @IMSoP Possibly, but we have no context within which to make that kind of judgment. It's very possible that the OP saw the phrase 'according the law', and parsed it incorrectly, hence the confusion.
    – Strawberry
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 12:16
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    @Kevin - You can also use accord as a transitive verb, meaning "give" or "grant," but it's very uncommon and will no doubt be far less common than usages of "according to (something)."
    – bubbleking
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 20:51
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    @Kevin - That may be, but now that multiple users have mentioned it, I don't think it's appropriate to insist that mcalex is "using the wrong word" or to downvote for it. I hadn't heard the usage before finding this discussion, but I've been convinced that it does, in fact, have a legitimate, albeit rare, existence. If I had delivered a downvote for it, and then read the supporting evidence, I would be compelled to remove my downvote.
    – bubbleking
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 21:06
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    @Kevin It's not extremely dated, but it is obscure. But do you know where it is used? Ironically enough, it's a phrase you'd most likely come across in contracts and law!
    – corsiKa
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 15:52

"According to" is a set phrase in English to indicate where something is specified. You can't just drop the "to" and expect it to have the same meaning.

The verb to accord has a number of meanings; the only sense in which it could abut a noun phrase like that is as a transitive verb; example: "I was according the law the respect it deserves". That's unlikely to be the sense intended here.

  • 1
    Surely (per your second paragraph) you mean that you can't drop a word and expect the phrase to have the same meaning, not that you can't expect it to have any meaning, right? Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 22:36
  • Good point, @Kyle - fixed. Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 8:30

“According the law” is ungrammatical. Only “according to the law” is correct.

  • Do some say "according of the law"?
    – Anixx
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 4:10
  • 4
    Nope! You can say “in accordance with the law”, however.
    – mamster
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 5:10
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    Well, you have to understand that Russian and English are two quite different languages. So, I wouldn't draw parallels between them. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 5:20
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    We can also say "according to law". So it's not quite right to say that "only 'according to the law' is correct" - though I suppose you mean "out of these two options".
    – rjpond
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 8:03
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    I'm afraid this is incorrect, as mcalex's answer has demonstrated. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 8:40

"According to" is certainly far more common in current usage. I cannot imagine dropping the "to" except perhaps in some unusual, perhaps archaic, construction.

OED lists according as an adverb and notes that it's "usually" according to. They also list a second sense as according as.

M-W and Macmillan list according to as a preposition.

  • It's quite common in Indian English, along with "refer the documentation" and "due unforeseen circumstances". Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 4:03
  • @Lightness Such variations are bound to arise in pidgin-like variants. I had a philology teacher once who was forever admonishing us not to trust critical editions of manuscripts themselves, but to “always take a look the original”. Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 12:56

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