Dictionary.com

Word Fact: Toward vs. Towards

toward

Do you move toward something or towards something? It turns out, you can do both, though some contexts favor one over the other.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, the preferred form in American English is toward without the -s, while the preferred British English form is towards with the -s. This general rule works with other directional words, including forward, backward, upward, and downward, along with afterward.

However, what applies to formal written English does not always apply to informal settings, both written and spoken. American English speakers often use towards in colloquial speech and writing, and toward sometimes pops up in British English.

Additionally, things have not always been this way historically. For example, Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales in a time before English spelling was standardized. Despite being a British text, he uses toward without an -s, the accepted American English variant today. Looking at American English data from Google Books Ngram Viewer, towards appears to have been used more widely in American English texts up until about 1900, when it was overtaken by toward.

Which variant do you tend to use and why?

Like this Word Fact? Sign up for our Word Fact of the Week email!

135 Comments

  1. Tom -  July 23, 2016 - 10:19 am

    They feel like me to be separate words, with slightly different meanings. I use ‘toward’ when the direction or focus is precise, or when speaking of a single event, and I use ‘towards’ when speaking of multiple occurrences, or when the direction or focus is less precise.

    I edit my work using this concept as a guide. Am I right am I wrong. Who can judge. But this is how I will do it.

    “I walked toward the door” seems right. “I walked towards the door” Seems unfocused and wrong, because that single event is simply understood, and precise. I didn’t walk in the general direction of the door multiple times, I walked to the door. Once. Toward it, and not towards it.

    “President Trump has strong views towards immigration.” Seems right (although I would use ‘regarding’ instead), while “President Trump has strong views toward immigration” seems incorrect, because he has expressed many views towards a complex, heavily-layered subject on multiple occasions (and not always exactly the same view), not a single occurrence of a point of view towards a simple, easily understood subject.

    It bugs me a little bit that this is somewhat inconsistent, but if they are two separate words with slightly different meanings, then that seems OK to me, because I would tolerate a mild, unimportant inconsistency over not having two precise terms that refer to slightly different things.

    Reply
  2. memelover -  April 4, 2016 - 9:43 am

    YOU GUYS ARE SO CONFUSING! GIVE ME A STRAIGHT ANSWER AND STOP CORRECTING EACH OTHER’S GRAMMAR!

    Reply
  3. jason -  December 22, 2015 - 2:47 pm

    I like turtles

    Reply
    • joe -  January 20, 2016 - 8:18 pm

      turtle, turtle.

      Reply
      • memelover -  April 4, 2016 - 9:44 am

        same.

        Reply
    • Meow -  February 25, 2016 - 6:19 am

      Turtleturtleturtleturtle

      Reply
    • Alex -  May 6, 2016 - 9:11 am

      ahahaha

      Reply
  4. Harvey Wachtel -  September 30, 2015 - 8:44 am

    I usually omit the “s” for two reasons: (a) why bother with it?, and (b) because I’m a bug for consistency [e.g., steam comes out of my ears when I see "normalcy" in standard English usage] and I can’t imagine saying “forwards-looking”.

    Reply
    • Rekt Gamer -  October 29, 2015 - 9:39 am

      Wat de difference between “Get rekt mate” and “Get wreck mate” (Don’t you dare to say “same” bleh)

      Reply
      • memelover -  April 4, 2016 - 9:44 am

        same

        Reply
    • Molly -  December 3, 2015 - 5:28 am

      I usually say towards with the -s and I have no idea where I got that from. I can’t imagine saying “forwards looking” either, but I think the -s makes sense in certain context like “going backwards.”

      Reply
      • paige -  January 23, 2016 - 8:03 pm

        It’s funny that you’re on a grammar website and say “where I got that from” instead of “where I got that.”

        Reply
  5. Steve -  August 17, 2015 - 12:53 pm

    I’ve never heard of anyone moving forwards. That’s just stupid. I’m a journalist, and the AP Stylebook says forward, backward, toward, etc. (no ‘s’ at the end). I think that’s how it should be….no matter the dialect.

    Reply
    • Bart -  September 11, 2015 - 9:02 am

      Yes, because AP is the arbiter of all English usage questions. Journalists are, after all, renowned for always getting the language right…

      Reply
    • Prescott -  September 22, 2015 - 10:07 pm

      Mmm.. “I moved toward the train station and donated £10 towards charity”. ??
      English is not my first language..

      Reply
    • Harvey Wachtel -  September 30, 2015 - 8:33 am

      The fact that you haven’t heard of something doesn’t make it “stupid”. This is not a useful attitude for someone whose job is reporting on what’s happening in the world.

      Reply
    • Rekt Gamer -  October 29, 2015 - 9:40 am

      OOOO AUGUST 17, 2015 IS DA MY BIRTHDAY! :3

      Reply
  6. SVS -  August 3, 2015 - 2:55 am

    ok.

    Reply
    • shriram -  August 3, 2015 - 2:57 am

      what

      Reply
    • Prescott -  September 22, 2015 - 9:50 pm

      Moved toward the train station, donated £10 towards charity

      Reply
  7. Eunwoo Park -  July 2, 2015 - 1:17 pm

    Would you please explain the difference in use of ‘except’ vs.’except for’?

    Reply
  8. Sherwood -  April 30, 2015 - 4:34 pm

    I use the versions without the -s. I didn’t always, though. A high school pen pal explained to me that it drove her nuts when people added that -s, and as I was without the skill of critical thought back then, I adopted her preference. I had no idea this was backed by any authority or that this was another one of those American/British English things. So happy I know now!

    Reply
  9. Cynthia -  April 20, 2015 - 3:31 am

    What about “regard” vs “regards”? I’d be interested in seeing the contextual differences between those two.

    Reply
    • Paul -  May 6, 2015 - 4:04 pm

      I’m pretty sure that that depends on who is doing the regarding.

      If “I”, “you”, “we”, or “they” is regarding, then one would use “regard”.
      Example: I regard that tree as my plant because I grew it.
      You regard those nice shoes as yours.

      If “he” or “she” is regarding, then one would use “regards”.
      Example: He regards the NBA as noobs because he really hates basketball.

      Reply
      • enny -  May 30, 2015 - 3:10 am

        wot duz noobs meen?

        Reply
        • Sayana -  June 10, 2015 - 5:39 pm

          It’s short for newbie. Someone who is unexperienced.

          Reply
        • Amanda -  June 11, 2015 - 9:28 am

          Noob is written NEWBIE, it means new on something.
          Not good on something. A beginner.

          Reply
        • Theresa -  June 26, 2016 - 6:05 am

          Enny “Wot duz noobs meen? ”
          Can you not spell or do you normally write like this?
          What does noobs( never heard this word before) mean?
          I’m only curious ! LOL

          Reply
  10. Alex Hutcheson -  March 19, 2015 - 1:19 pm

    Towards is probably a regional dialect, instead it actually is said/spelled toward.

    Reply
  11. Ximena -  March 4, 2015 - 8:27 am

    Would it be possible to add the pronunciation to the words?
    Is it called phonetics?

    Reply
  12. Clay -  March 2, 2015 - 10:14 pm

    Word origin: Toweardes.
    So you see, it originated with an s.

    Reply
  13. Chris -  March 1, 2015 - 5:30 pm

    According to the online etymology dictionary, ‘toward’ is a preposition whereas ‘towards’ is and adverb formed using the adverbial genitive (which is described in thie WIkikipedia article ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverbial_genitive ) )

    Basically it is an historical construct which does have syntactic value still, though, as with much of our language, the richness of its syntax is slowly being lost.

    Reply
    • L -  March 27, 2015 - 8:44 am

      You used Wikipedia as a “solid” reference? -_-

      Reply
      • Frances -  April 19, 2015 - 10:06 am

        I agree with you as regards Wikipedia being referred to as a “solid” source. Wikipedia has stated that it welcomes corrections. Whatever happened to my favorite, Encyclopedia Britannica? Now, that I call “solid”!

        Reply
        • enone -  May 30, 2015 - 3:12 am

          France dusnt hav a ‘s’ on the end, idiot!

          Reply
          • Sayana -  June 10, 2015 - 5:46 pm

            Not refering to the country, here, Frances is a person’s name. Like Emily could be written Emilie, Emy-Lee, Amy-Lee, Emylie, Emyly… It’s the parent’s choice, really! Besides, the s in Frances is actually pronounced. I’ve actually known of people called Frances…

          • Theresa -  June 26, 2016 - 6:11 am

            Enone, why do you feel the necessity to call someone an idiot! Frances is a woman’s name!

          • Theresa -  June 26, 2016 - 6:13 am

            Enone
            Ps dusnt is normally spelt doesn’t !

      • EuroAm -  December 28, 2015 - 1:54 pm

        Yes, Wikipedia is a solid source. In addition to accepting/making corrections, the data are footnoted and there’s a bibliography with links to their sources.

        Reply
  14. Ben -  February 23, 2015 - 3:19 pm

    Im only 9 and i know its toward

    Reply
    • Savannah -  February 24, 2015 - 9:08 am

      If you knew that, then you should also know how to place apostrophes…

      Reply
      • Gladys Zybysko -  June 10, 2015 - 3:32 am

        Only one period is needed at the end of a sentence.

        Reply
      • gg -  July 21, 2015 - 10:26 pm

        May happines and beauty surround you always. We may not be as close as you are toward others but i know in my heart that you are such a wonderful and genuine person.

        Reply
      • gg -  July 21, 2015 - 10:27 pm

        is my grammar using toward correct?

        Reply
    • Faith -  February 24, 2015 - 12:58 pm

      It depends on the context of the sentence. It will NOT always be toward. If it is in an adverbial context it will be towards

      Reply
    • Kit Snicket -  March 15, 2015 - 8:25 pm

      Your sentence should have been something like,

      “I’m only nine and I know it’s toward.”.

      Even if you are on the internet, please use proper grammar.

      Also, referring to the subject of your grammatical atrocity, it will not always be toward. Which word you use depends on the situation, which is why it is being disputing.

      Reply
      • L -  March 27, 2015 - 8:54 am

        *Disputed
        Learn how to spell before you correct others about grammar.

        Reply
  15. Vijay -  February 21, 2015 - 11:03 am

    In the entire discussion above, I did not see any reference to its use as an adjective or an adverb.
    In the adjectival form, it is ‘toward’. In the adverbial form, it is ‘towards’.
    Extending the idea a bit, try “an untowards incident”! Ugh!

    Reply
  16. Hi -  February 21, 2015 - 8:35 am

    I use towards.

    Reply
  17. Karl -  February 21, 2015 - 12:14 am

    What about ‘afterward’?

    Reply
  18. German Castellanos -  February 20, 2015 - 3:23 pm

    I have been using toward for a long time and whoever I talk is ok with it

    Reply
    • anonymous bibliophile -  March 11, 2015 - 10:56 pm

      …and *”to whomever” you talk…

      Reply
  19. Dorita Rosewitz -  February 20, 2015 - 1:36 pm

    I thought it followed the rule if the verb ends in s use toward.

    The batter runs toward first base.

    If the verb has no s it was towards.

    I ran towards the ball.

    I don’t know were I got this but running sentences through my mind I naturally tend to do this.

    Reply
  20. Kenn S. -  February 20, 2015 - 8:53 am

    Toward. No “s,” please. Though, the comments were not a complete loss, for there was this gem, “As a Dutchman, I appreciate languages’ richness.”
    Really? As Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce once offered to someone’s largess, “Look, I don’t mind but all this genuflecting is making my pants baggy.” Please calm down Mr. Nederlander.

    Reply
    • Cody -  February 20, 2015 - 2:13 pm

      Benjamin Franklin was also an American. He isn’t really the best to judge English, now is he? No. This IS relevant because you’re quoting a Dutch on a personal view[1] of the English language. Americanised English is pathetic. Sort of like your view on toward instead of towards. The irony with your suggestion that it should be toward, no s, full stop, is just too much. It is even worse when you consider that Americanised English (otherwise known as ‘American’) is very different from proper English but yet here you are suggesting that there is no room for difference. This means you’re also a hypocrite.

      For your information, people from Sweden have also stated similar. Yes, English is a rather rich language compared to some others. It’s just you wouldn’t know because you are the stereotypical American i.e. arrogant, ignorant of others, overconfident, hypocritical and incapable of recognising that the United States of America is only one country of many more (many of which are far older than America).

      Bigot.

      [1] Going after someone’s personal view of a language when they are more familiar with a language which is much less rich is incredibly arrogant indeed. Attacking someone over their personal view is arrogant even when it isn’t about language.

      Reply
      • Jim -  February 26, 2015 - 10:54 am

        Sounds like someone needs a laxative.

        Reply
      • Donna -  June 18, 2015 - 5:16 am

        The Benjamin Franklin reference was not about THE Benjamin Franklin; it was a reference to Alan Alda’s character on MASH.

        Reply
  21. mehmani.ali -  February 20, 2015 - 2:33 am

    toward !

    Reply
  22. Kero -  February 20, 2015 - 12:22 am

    I live in Hawaii, and have honestly used both without much thought. As a fanfiction writer, I’m always aware of what my readers will nitpick and what they’ll leave alone. This topic came up between my beta and I just a few days ago, actually. She lives in Tennessee and uses ‘toward’, while I tend to use ‘towards’ for no particular reason. However, we’ve both switched it up multiple times without thinking about it. It never seemed to matter until we noticed, and when we did… The internet wasn’t particularly helpful. I got about as much insight into this topic as I did that night when I googled whether or not wolves are colorblind (the answer? Inconclusive, though one website quite simply said that wolves didn’t care enough to notice).

    Reply
    • anonymous bibliophile -  March 11, 2015 - 11:00 pm

      That last bit is quite amusing, I actually chuckled.

      Reply
    • Kit Snicket -  March 15, 2015 - 8:28 pm

      Oh frabjous day. Google is not a verb.

      Reply
      • Jocelyn -  April 19, 2015 - 9:25 pm

        Why do you feel the need to nitpick?

        “Google” can, in fact, be used as a verb. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/google?s=t

        Regardless, the English language is always changing and evolving. Whether it appears in the dictionary as such, or not, it is commonly used as a verb.

        Reply
        • Amgine -  December 3, 2015 - 8:34 am

          Descriptivists vs. Prescriptivists/Proscriptivists! In chocolate pudding!

          Reply
  23. haney -  February 19, 2015 - 11:47 pm

    I really appreciate your explanation

    Reply
  24. haney -  February 19, 2015 - 11:46 pm

    I always use towards and i am 12…PSLE….

    Reply
  25. Csaba Farkas -  February 19, 2015 - 6:35 pm

    Towards mostly but toward sometimes when it denotes a physical direction. Definitely towards when referring to an abstract notion, such as PAY TOWARDS the cost of something.

    Reply
  26. Ime Ekanem -  February 19, 2015 - 5:23 pm

    “Toward” is preferable

    Reply
  27. Bill Romance -  February 19, 2015 - 4:55 pm

    Just out of the logic that I understand … I always figured that you would move toward one thing , or move towards several things.

    Reply
  28. me hurts -  February 19, 2015 - 12:59 pm

    U R A idiot, or You are a idiot.

    Whats the difference??

    NONE U R A IDIOT.

    Reply
    • Kit Snicket -  March 15, 2015 - 8:29 pm

      *an

      Reply
  29. Shelley Mitchell -  February 19, 2015 - 10:49 am

    I use toward, because after writing a thesis and a dissertation, and having my committee head correct me every time I used “towards”, I’m broken of that habit!

    Reply
  30. Felipe -  February 19, 2015 - 9:38 am

    I will like to know the usage and word facts of “nuclear” vs. “nucular”, since even some previous U.S president used the word nucular when referring to nuclear energy.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Keith Birch -  February 24, 2015 - 12:27 am

      Hi Felipe – there is no such word as ‘nucular’. It seems to be a mispronunciation made popular with Americans by George W. Bush when he was POTUS.

      Reply
      • Frances -  April 19, 2015 - 10:26 am

        President George W. Bush had nothing to do with it. The mispronunciation was around years before his utterance of it. I understand the mispronunciation to be either possibly regional or a person’s difficulty in simply focusing on pronouncing the/a word correctly..

        Reply
  31. Jane -  February 19, 2015 - 7:37 am

    Thank you for this explanation! I didn’t! Know that.both were acceptable. Same goes for my hackles between regard and regards.

    Reply
  32. Eithrael -  February 18, 2015 - 6:33 pm

    I was born (1970) and raised in the Chicago area. I never use the ending s. Towards, forwards, backwards, upwards, etc., are like nails on a chalk board, to me.

    Reply
  33. Tori y -  February 18, 2015 - 5:33 pm

    Wow! I never really thought about it but know I know!:) thanks

    Reply
  34. Austin -  February 18, 2015 - 5:31 pm

    Towards for me

    Reply
  35. shnia -  February 18, 2015 - 1:38 pm

    towards and i am 11 and i know.

    Reply
    • jasmine -  February 20, 2015 - 6:37 am

      so im ten i know too

      Reply
      • anonymous bibliophile -  March 11, 2015 - 11:03 pm

        I’m pretty sure a dictionary would know better than two ten-year-olds.

        Reply
      • Kit Snicket -  March 15, 2015 - 8:30 pm

        It depends on the situation, children.

        Reply
      • Stu -  May 1, 2015 - 5:03 pm

        Wow! Seven mistakes in a six-word sentence from the flower. Even for a ten-year-old, that’s pretty poor.

        Reply
  36. Daniel Gerzon -  February 18, 2015 - 12:07 am

    Interesting variety of views, indeed. As a Dutchman, I appreciate languages’ richness. Possible contextual options: the message by someone to ‘please move ‘forward’ seems perfectly correct to me, while not so ‘please move forwards’. ‘This ideology is considered ‘backwards’, ‘Outward bound’, ‘Toward which I may reply.’ ‘As towards the people involved’. ~ Thankfully, language is an evolving matter and functions quite well as such, let’s move forward, sempre avanti.

    Reply
    • Daniel Gerzon -  February 18, 2015 - 12:13 am

      I had intended to enter this as a reply to Jim – February 13, 2015 – 6:07 am (see below).

      Reply
    • Cute girl -  February 19, 2015 - 2:46 pm

      Interesting

      Reply
    • Chris -  March 1, 2015 - 5:15 pm

      If I hear ‘Please move forward’ I think of the motion, not the destination, whereas if I hear ‘Please move forwards’ I think of the destination as well. I would have to think how this pans out with the other ‘–ward’s.

      Reply
  37. Wm Adams -  February 17, 2015 - 7:23 pm

    Toward is to be used by print reporters whose publications abide by the Associated Press Stylebook, which most print media do.

    Reply
    • cool -  February 19, 2015 - 1:59 pm

      cool

      Reply
  38. Erin -  February 17, 2015 - 3:49 pm

    I grew up using towards. I was raised in a part of one of the original colonies which was largely settled by working class English before 1650, then isolated and ignored.

    Sometime in my 20s, a friend of Irish descent in Chicago mocked my -s usage, and I became more circumspect, eliminating the -s unless clearly necessary. It now sounds rube-like to me.

    Reply
    • lily -  February 18, 2015 - 5:16 pm

      I grew up using towards too! I am also Irish.

      Reply
  39. Vikram -  February 17, 2015 - 10:45 am

    Like we have a saying, ‘All the roads lead to Rome’ here in this context, ‘Toward’ comes. The specific direction. But in the context of broad direction, we say “Go towards East’ etc. Does it make sense ?

    Reply
  40. Afnan Linjawi -  February 16, 2015 - 10:28 pm

    Yeah, I never knew the difference was according to yet again Geography. I thought each had a usage

    Reply
  41. Abdur Rahman -  February 16, 2015 - 4:28 pm

    GOOD

    Reply
  42. Matt Knighton -  February 15, 2015 - 3:58 pm

    Appreciate the insight. It’s always been confusing to me. Same with the other “ward” words. The clarification is helpful. I do a fair amount of writing, and the thought of using a wrong word or spelling it the wrong way sends a chill up my spine (almost).

    Reply
  43. Nii Commey -  February 15, 2015 - 7:26 am

    Very interesting. Thank you for the explanation.

    Reply
  44. Jason -  February 15, 2015 - 7:22 am

    I’m from Southern Indiana and have always used towards, without thinking or knowing there was a difference, or being corrected by others. Though also I have neither paid any attention to which others use.

    Reply
  45. Bakarr S. Koroma -  February 15, 2015 - 4:02 am

    Good to know the difference in usage of words.

    Reply
  46. Sarah Catherine -  February 14, 2015 - 11:57 am

    I’m an American, and I thought the same thing Kathleen did, so this is nice to know. Thanks.

    Reply
  47. Sarah Catherine -  February 14, 2015 - 11:55 am

    I’m an American, and I thought the same thing Kathleen did, so this is nice to know. Thanks.

    Reply
  48. Fran V G Constantine -  February 14, 2015 - 7:59 am

    Thank you for the clarification. I use the both toward and towards. eg- I am walking towards the car. They are walking towards the car. This how I have being differentiating these words. However, it is good to know that I can use either of them.

    Reply
  49. ellipsis -  February 13, 2015 - 4:13 pm

    I lean towards the use of the “s”…

    Reply
  50. Simone Vandorre -  February 13, 2015 - 3:19 pm

    very interesting. never knew that!!

    Reply
  51. Kou -  February 13, 2015 - 3:12 pm

    I really find this a debate between semantics. Considering English is such a hodgepodge language, I really wish we could move past such lexicographical quandaries and accept that as long as it makes sense, it is correct English.

    The distinction between forms of verbs like toward and towards is purely academic; mind you, that this entire rant of mine is coming from an English academic who finds debates like this rather juvenile.

    P.S.: I’m not attacking the author of the article or Dictionary.com, just sharing my thoughts on the subject.

    Reply
    • Yee -  February 19, 2015 - 9:04 pm

      I agree

      Reply
    • Vicky -  February 20, 2015 - 9:14 am

      To English Academic Kou: Toward is not a verb.

      Reply
  52. PAL -  February 13, 2015 - 1:06 pm

    I generally us it depending on singular and plural.
    EXAMPLES:

    “The buy moved TOWARDS the large metal sphere”

    “Jack, Lou and Jenny moved TOWARD It too.”

    I do have some exceptions, such as group words such as They, The Party, A group and more.

    Reply
  53. Ralph Hutton -  February 13, 2015 - 12:49 pm

    In Australia we add the “s”. I have spent some time in USA and I have never noticed this. But, now it has been mentioned I recall it.

    Reply
  54. Frimpong Ex-gee -  February 13, 2015 - 11:49 am

    I use towards because I came to meet that and taught is the correct version

    Reply
  55. Joe Boyle -  February 13, 2015 - 11:29 am

    probably related to German “-waerts” (Rueckwaerts=backwards). Probably from Latin “Versus”: against, in English, but toward in Latin? Sound plausible?

    Reply
  56. Phil -  February 13, 2015 - 9:27 am

    I have always leaned towards toward!

    Reply
    • Mehtan -  March 3, 2015 - 12:11 pm

      The best idea on the issue

      Reply
  57. Farhad Akrami -  February 13, 2015 - 9:16 am

    Even though I’m living in the US, I tend to use towards. I don’t know the reason, that’s just how I heard and learned from other people…
    Thanks for your interesting word facts!

    Reply
  58. Al Hubbard -  February 13, 2015 - 8:12 am

    I do not use the “S”. It’s superfluous….

    Reply
    • Amy -  February 20, 2015 - 8:50 am

      I agree. The “s” is superfluous. Doesn’t add anything, doesn’t change tense or context, so why use it?

      Reply
  59. Stacey L. Douglas -  February 13, 2015 - 7:23 am

    Toward with no “s” – which seems superfluous and if not confusing as to why it is appended. But maybe I just like shorter spellings, like “catalog” rather than “catalogue” and “amid” rather than “amidst” (which my American English spell checker wants to correct).

    Reply
  60. Gavin -  February 13, 2015 - 6:59 am

    When it comes to which word I should use, I’m leaning toward the word -s.

    Reply
  61. DogLady -  February 13, 2015 - 6:44 am

    “Towards?” [Cringe] I’m from “old school” grammar of the ’50′s and ’60′s. My parents and my teachers in elementary school considered it as bad grammar if anyone used the “s” after any of these words. It simply was not done. I began teaching English and grammar in the mid 1970′s. Later on I found out that I was selected for the job because of my proper grammar in speaking during the interview.
    Other applicants used “low” English.
    Don’t ever say or write “towards.” Just because some people have been bending the grammar rules for fifty years should not mean that it is OK to get sloppy.

    Reply
    • Ellie -  February 18, 2015 - 8:00 pm

      I think that might be a bit extreme — language is not set in stone. Spellings and word meanings do change over time; it’s completely normal. Also, there are other places in the world where grammar teachers are probably teaching the exact opposite; that is, that “toward” is improper and should never be used. I understand that grammatical rules should be followed for clarity’s sake, but one’s meaning will be clear regardless of the “s.” I should think it’s unnecessary to be completely and entirely against the use of “towards.”

      Reply
  62. Ricky Forguson -  February 13, 2015 - 6:23 am

    I find the use of the final -s more prevalent with “backward” than “forward”, “upward” or “downward”. Without the -s denotes direction of motion whereas the final -s denotes ultimate position; e.g. You can fall “forward” and end up “backwards”. Let’s just hope nothing “untoward” happened!

    Reply
    • TJ Walsh -  March 15, 2016 - 12:02 pm

      The comments of Joe Boyle and Ricky Forguson seem to have merit. I think that many of the -ward(s) words do orginate in the Latin or in the German “-waerts”. The notion of direction of motion versus ultimate position also makes some sense. A person may be facing backwards after falling forward (or should it be facing backward after falling forwards?), but he also may be an ignorant and backward person. This follows the notion of adverbial vs. adjectival forms.
      However, “toward(s)” is a different kettle of fish. It is normally used as a preposition, e.g. “He ran toward the car.” The German equivalent is generally zu or nach, not “zuwaerts”. We should not conflate the rules for “toward(s)” with the rules for other -ward(s) words. Note that Mr. Boyle and Mr. Ferguson do not use “toward(s)” in their examples. When using it as a preposition I almost always use “toward”. The exception would be when I converse with someone who always adds the “s”.

      Reply
  63. Nina Villones -  February 13, 2015 - 6:14 am

    How about the use of anyway vs. anyways? I often heard some folks using anyways.

    Reply
    • Sam -  February 18, 2015 - 8:02 pm

      My friend and I have been arguing about that one for a long time. I’m relatively certain that both are correct, as with “towards” and “toward.”

      Reply
    • Amy -  February 20, 2015 - 8:52 am

      I hear “anyways” often as well … and I cringe every time. Same reaction I get when I hear “I seen it.”

      Reply
      • Kathy Robertson -  February 21, 2015 - 7:57 pm

        I agree.

        Reply
  64. Nicholas -  February 13, 2015 - 3:10 am

    I never gave much thought to the difference between the two; however, I find myself and the people around me using the added s principle for all the directionals – towards, backwards, upwards, downwards, and forwards. This is probably as a result of the strong British influence.

    Well I am happy now that I am aware of the distinction between the two.

    Reply
  65. Kathleen Collins -  February 12, 2015 - 4:23 am

    This is interesting. I’ve never known that the difference was due to geographical location or nationality. Having grown up in a british colony I’ve been using towards. I thought the other was just bad english! Now I know better.

    Reply
  66. ezra wekesa -  February 12, 2015 - 2:08 am

    they both work depending on the context

    Reply
    • Jim -  February 13, 2015 - 6:07 am

      And what might these contexts be? I can’t think of a single contextual reason to choose one over the other. Please expand.

      Reply
      • me me -  February 19, 2015 - 12:57 pm

        idiot…

        r u 1 or Are you One?

        Whats the difference, your still an idiot.

        Reply
        • april -  February 21, 2015 - 1:35 pm

          I think you mean, “You’re an idiot”. “Your” is a word meaning “belonging to you”. If you’re going to call someone an idiot, at least spell it right…

          Reply
        • Jay -  February 23, 2015 - 1:45 am

          You used the wrong “your”, while calling someone else an idiot. But, that’s okay, you’re not an idiot. Are you?

          Reply
        • Paul -  March 3, 2015 - 4:43 pm

          “Your” still an idiot? “Your”??? REALLY?!?! Put your mother on the phone, I’ve got something to say to that woman.

          Reply
      • Amy -  February 20, 2015 - 8:53 am

        I agree.

        Reply

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked (required):

Related articles

Back to Top