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        Toward or Towards | Difference, Uses & Origins

        • calenderSep 06, 2023
        • calender 2 min read

        What is the difference between toward and towards and which word is grammatically correct? To answer the first question, the difference between toward and towards is, well, nothing apart from the presence or absence of an additional s! Furthermore, both words are grammatically correct and can be used to indicate moving in the direction of. 

        But you may have several questions like, “Which word is better: Is it toward or towards?”, “Are there any regional preferences between the two?”, “Is it better to use towards or toward when it comes to academic writing?” We will answer all these questions and many more in this quick guide! 

        Let’s start off by understanding what the two words actually mean. 

        Toward vs. towards definition and examples

        The meaning of toward(s) is moving in the direction of something concrete like a person, place, or object. It can also be used to refer to something abstract like a goal, or a dream. Toward(s) is a preposition often used in word phrases such as leaning toward(s) to indicate a preference or a stance. 

        Here are a few examples of toward and towards in a sentence:

        • She walked toward the park to enjoy the beautiful sunset.
        • His attitude toward life changed, and he’s now more open to new ideas.
        • The company is working towards expanding its global presence.
        • The cat crept slowly towards the mouse, trying not to make a sound.

        Let’s take a closer look at whether to use toward or towards.

        When to use toward or towards?

        When it comes to the two words, toward is more commonly used in North America and towards in other English-speaking countries like the UK and Australia. 

        Despite the regional variations, the two words are often used interchangeably. There is no specific rule when it comes to the use of towards vs. toward in spoken or written English. 

        However, style guides such as the AP style guide and the Chicago Manual of Style encourage the use of toward over towards. So, it is a safe bet to use toward when it comes to academic writing.

        Origins and etymology of toward and towards

        The origin of the words towards and toward can be traced back to the 9th century. It is derived from a combination of the words to and weard. The addition of the extra s in toward was fairly common during the 9th century. 

        Whilst both these words are deemed grammatically correct, the use of toward versus towards is a highly controversial topic amongst literary giants. Some argue that the use of towards is purely arbitrary and one of the many common grammar mistakes. Whilst others think that the use of an additional s completely justified.

        In fact, most words with the suffix ward (forward, backward, afterward) could be used with an additional s. So, the correct version of toward(s) depends on whom you ask. However, the general consensus is that both are grammatically correct with slight regional variations.   

        Frequently Asked Questions

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        Nandita Linkedin

        Nandita is a budding writer with a background in Psychology. She adores mysterious movies with unusual plots, cozy coffee houses, and any conversation involving Agatha Christie!

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