1. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    toward/towards?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Melzaar the Almighty, Apr 16, 2011.

    Also forward/forwards? I have no idea when you're meant to use them or if there is a difference. I was using "forwards" as a standard, but then had a crisis of confidence and started using "forward" in the same context and now I am confused and examples of it with and without the s litter my work. :p Almost all of them sound to me like either one is right. Been meaning to ask for a while.

    examples a quick search through my novel picked up:

    this sounds like you can only use the non-s word:

    but

    What's the difference and why?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Toward is the correct preopsition, although some dictionaries are including towards because of widespread use.

    Dictionaries report usage; they don't create it. Stillm the better ones will point out standard vs. nonstandard words.
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, this has to be an American/English thing because I just went to my dictionary after reading this post and deciding to see if there was a difference (I'd just been assuming while thinking it was a modification of the word it would just have both under one definition. Oh how wrong I was, so thanks at least for letting me know there was help to be found there :p)

    Toward: all definitions obsolete except "see towards" (so it's actually wrong to use "toward")

    Towards: definition as expected for the word, including examples.

    and Forward, while the main word, has a "see Forwards" and that definition claims it's a perfectly valid alternative.

    I like the flow of the words with s on the end, so I'ma remove all but the necessary "forward"s and put s on the end of them. :)
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, it is. "Towards" etc. are more usual in the UK, "toward" in the US, although both are fairly common on both sides of the Atlantic. Cog might not like it, but if a usage becomes sufficiently widespread then it becomes standard!
     
  5. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    He he, I'm just glad to know that I wasn't wrong my whole life about it. :p
     
  6. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Haha, this is something that has always confused me, but I've always used 'forwards/towards'. :p
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not so. The 's' is correct and standard in British English:
    towards, forwards, backwards etc.
    It is still fairly unusual to see these words written in the UK without the 's'. I have seen American novels with these words with the 's' from time to time as well.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That is NOT eviidence of correctness!

    However, I will concede that UK English differs from US English in many areas, and this does seem to be one of them.
     
  9. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's evidence that publishers want to use the same language as their potential readers, not all of whom are grammarians, and so are more content to go with "widespread use" than you are. "Correct" is, after all, a problematic term for a language that isn't defined by a legislative body. English is defined by "widespread use".
     
  10. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Quite. Tis interesting this because it points towards something larger: the slight tendency of American prose to be punchy, emphatic, staccato in character and of British prose to be flowing and soft.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Only partially true. "Common use" does not always lead to acceptance as part of the language. Many people mispronounce nuclear as nucular, but it is still considered ignorant usage, not a legitimate part of the language.

    Yes, some usages on the verge of acceptance fall into the gray area you are referring to. Certainly towards is far closer to acceptance than being considered just plain wrong.

    But if you think inclusion in novels means usage is accepted, you are grasping at smoke. The sad truth is that many things simply slip past the editors.

    But you cannot count on them slipping past. Your chances of getting accepted are far better if you avoid usage errors as often as possible.

    It is good that people ask which is correct, and that they use the available resources to try to learn the answer for themselves.

    Make the dictionary your friend, preferable several dictionaries. Bookmark Paul Brian's Common Errors in English, and read it straight through at least once. And never stop learning.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh in which case it is Toweard(s) with a fada/acute accent over the o. And I think Foregan with the fada this time over the a.

    The s in Toweards has been acceptable since Anglo Saxon times at least. It's been in usage since before dictionaries were invented. Admittedly American English does not move or adapt as fast as UK English - for example the term git was coined in 1940 by 1949 despite a WW in th between was in the dictionary. The OED cottons on and includes changes in the English language very quickly usually whilst people are saying the usage isn't proper.
     
  13. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    The chart below shows use in American English. A chart for British English has toward barely registering at all.


    [​IMG]
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Toward appears to be the mutation/adaption - common usage in the US making it the correct term there.

    Although toweard is in the Anglo Saxon dictionary I have - I never actually remember seeing it in a document toweards was predominant. Just could couldn't imagine Maid Marian running toweard Robin instead of Robin running toweards Maid Marian lol

    Wonder if the lack of the s came about as an influence from another language ?
     
  15. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or - perhaps more intriguingly - the character of a group of people give rise to certain mutations (or tendencies in spelling and use)?
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am now wondering because I am sure my Mid-West Mom-in-Law says towards and the graph indicates it hasn't died out entirely (given her particular job - the usage would certainly be on that graph if she writes it). Whereas I now need to ask my husband as I think he says toward but he is California.
     
  17. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Interesting history of the words. :D


    This may be another thing my American/British heritage is making confusing for me - my mum may say "toward" and I never really noticed but then obviously living in Britain I'd always hear "towards"... There are really tiny things like that which drive me mad and everyone else hardly notices. :p I'll ask her next time I happen to chat with her. :D

    (Usually the case is she has fully adapted to English life, and I've just been watching to much American TV, though...)
     
  18. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My kids adapt very will.

    Mum says, 'No you can't have any biscuits?'
    Kids says, 'Dad can I have a cookie?'
    Mum shouts: 'No'
    Kid: 'What about crisps then?'
    Mum: 'No'
    Kid: 'Dad can you get me a bag of chips?'

    Then we leave our car in a carparking lot and we walk on a sidepavementwalk.
     
  19. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I love stuff like this. Remindeds me of a snarky comment a professor made on a paper once, asking if my use of 'dialog' was the "British or something" and I didn't have the heart/balls to correct him in the middle of class and explain that 'dialog' is actually the American variant.

    But anyways, irregardless of correctitude and truthiness, it's all about clear communication. In prose, I'll often do things that aren't 'correct' because they're clearer, or sound better, or better reflect my character. My like cowboy who doesn't drive 'out of' a parking lot, but drove out the parking lot. Or shut something quick. Or fragments.
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Entirely agree.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    an 's' for toward and forward make no sense to me... that said, it does make sense to me, for 'backward' in certain contexts... which probably makes little to no sense at all...

    such are the many challenges our seriously MPD-cursed language imposes upon us!
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is where I appreciate the flexibility of UK English - between regional variation, and historical changes its an amazing language to deal with and twist, turn, build images with. Create dialogue and nuances etc

    Having a basic knowledge of the history of the language is fun and living in North Scotland I have the option of Doric/Scots/Gaelic as well. It is a rich diversity within the language itself that I just love having access to.
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    To muddy the waters further, "upward" is the usual UK form for the adjective, "upwards" for the adverb. But none of my reference sources give either as right or wrong in UK or US English, just tendencies on usage.

    Why are we even discussing "towards"/"toward", by the way? It's an adverb, and I thought nobody here would dare use adverbs! :D
     
  24. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's a different sort of adverb from the "ly" ones that stand out so much as bad writing when used en masse. I didn't even know it was - dunno what I would have called it. Mind you, never really learned grammar, so I can't say. :p
     
  25. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought it was a preposition ? Prepositions can be used as adverbs me thought but didn't have to be ?

    Not that I am against adverbs - I don't use them very often but will do if I need to.
     

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