1. Chad J Sanderson
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    Chad J Sanderson Member

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    Toward or Towards?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Chad J Sanderson, Sep 28, 2011.

    I've done some research on the difference between toward and towards and I came up with surprisingly little. Most places say that there really is no difference between the two other than spelling since both words are almost always used as adjectives.

    I'm interested to know what version people prefer and why.
     
  2. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Towards is British spelling, and toward is American. At least that's what I think is the difference.
     
  3. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    If I saw the word toward in a sentence I'd still read it as towards, so I suppose I prefer towards! And in reference to the above post, I'm British :)
     
  4. Smythe
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    Smythe Member

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    I agree with Manav - I beleive 'toward' is an Americansim
     
  5. Timothy Giant
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    Timothy Giant Member

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    Is this true for all those words - forward(s), northward(s), etc?
     
  6. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think I made a thread worrying about this before, and that was pretty much the consensus. Being somewhat influenced by my American mother I get the feeling she may have been saying things like "toward" all the time and influencing me, so I was doing it both ways as I felt the emphasis fell... I've managed to start thinking about always putting the s on the end though. I think :p I've not thought about this for a while. This thread is a good kick up the bum to remember to do it. >_<
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i doubt it's strictly a us vs uk thing, as i see and hear it used both ways on both sides of the pond...
     
  8. Chad J Sanderson
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    Chad J Sanderson Member

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    Right, me too, even though I've heard the UK vs. US arguments. I'm American and I almost always use "towards." It always looks right to me on paper.
     
  9. Smythe
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    Smythe Member

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    No.


    "The men marched forwards, towards the North."

    "The men marched Northwards, heading forward."

    "I drove forwards, then backwards"

    To be honest, they are probably interchangeable, but I do believe that the missing 's' is less formal.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    forward doesn't make good sense with an 's'.... nor does backward, imo...
     
  11. Smythe
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    Smythe Member

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    How about as an imperative?
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure why having the 's' "doesn't make good sense". Both forms are correct, but British English rarely drops the 's' when it's showing direction:
    I walked towards the house.
    The car rolled forwards.
    This makes perfect sense to me.
    Obviously, in phrases like:
    I look forward to meeting you
    there is no 's'.
     
  13. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I usually go with the idea, if it works just as well without, leave it out, and most of these words fall under that.
     
  14. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    However, it doesn't work just as well. It doesn't flow in British English when the sense of motion is involved, and looks ugly generally. But each to their own, whatever style makes you happy.
     
  15. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I should have clarified. I meant it works just as well in American English. I'm far from familiar with UK English and the subtle differences between the two.
     
  16. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    Actually they work both ways:
    The men marched forward(s), then turned northward(s), stopped and then marched backward(s). I drove forward(s) and backward(s) numerous times.
    I believe if they work both, leave the extra letter off.
     
  17. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    One magazine published in the US edited it as 'toward' when they published my short story.
     
  18. cuzzo
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    cuzzo New Member

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    Uh, is this really a US/UK thing? I though it was just like "anyway(s)"--"anyway" is a word and "anyways" is not.
     
  19. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here's what the Oxford English Dictionary (referring to British usage) says:
    In English the history of -wards as an advb. suffix is identical with that of -ward [...]; beside every adv. in -ward there has always existed (at least potentially) a parallel formation in -wards, and vice versa. The two forms are so nearly synonymous (the general sense of the advs. being ‘in the direction indicated by the first element of the compound’) that the choice between them is mostly determined by some notion of euphony in the particular context; some persons, apparently, have a fixed preference for the one or the other form. Sometimes, however, the difference in the form of the suffix corresponds to a difference in the shade of meaning conveyed, though it would not be possible to give any general rule that would be universally accepted. Where the meaning to be expressed includes the notion of manner as well as direction of movement, -wards is required, as in ‘to walk backwards’, ‘to write backwards’. In other instances the distinction seems to be that -wards is used when the adv. is meant to express a definite direction in contrast with other directions: thus we say ‘it is moving forwards if it is moving at all’, but ‘to come forward’, not ‘forwards’ (see further the note on forward adv.); so ‘to travel eastward’ expresses generally the notion of travelling in the direction of an eastern goal, ‘to travel eastwards’ implies that the direction is thought of as contrasted with other possible directions. Hence -wards seems to have an air of precision which has caused it to be avoided in poetical use.

    There appears to be no appreciable difference in meaning between the prepositions toward adj. and adv. and towards prep. and adv.; the latter is now, at least in British use, more common colloquially.​
    So frankly, (in the UK) it seems to be down to whichever you think sounds best.
     

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