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Are when it comes to and with regard to always interchangeable? Is there any difference at all?

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But there are some contexts in which they are not. For example, 'When it comes to doing the washing-up, you can never find him.' –  Barrie England Nov 5 '11 at 21:09
    
@Barrie: I'm wondering if there's a general rule that when it comes to something that isn't actually "arriving" right now in the ongoing discourse (as the next topic), you'd normally use those words, rather than "With regard to". –  FumbleFingers Nov 5 '11 at 23:11
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In those contexts where they are interchangeable, I'd say that 'with regard to' was the more formal of the two. –  Barrie England Nov 6 '11 at 9:06
    
This is an excellent question because it's exactly the sort of thing that an English speaker would never think about, but would probably find impossible to explain if put on the spot. It seems we can't answer it yet with quite a bit of consideration! –  Karl Knechtel Nov 6 '11 at 12:01
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1 Answer

Both can be used to introduce a new subject of discussion; however, my feeling is that there is a subtle difference in acceptable contexts - "with regard to" is less appropriate when the subject has not already been directly questioned. For example,

When it comes to technology, I have no idea what I'm doing

would be fine, in the context of discussing, say, a new phone but the corresponding

With regard to technology [...]

would be inappropriate unless the question of the speaker's technological ability had already been raised but not yet addressed.

Both would be appropriate, in a context of say a board meeting, where "Technology" was an item on the agenda.

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