The toward vs towards debate has been going on for several years now. The English language is strange, and it is commonly known that there are plenty of words with more than one correct spelling. Verbs like ‘spelt’ and ‘spell,’ nouns like ‘color’ and colour,’ ‘favor’ and ‘favour’ are a few such examples.
The towards vs toward argument is another example of English words with more than one correct spelling. Also, the difference between the two words happens to be geographical more than literal. However, it is best to know in detail the differences between the two words to know when to use them without any confusion.
If you are worried about making simple errors over the internet’s inability to fix the toward vs towards issue, you have come to the right place. Keep reading and learn all you need to know about using ‘toward’ and ‘towards’ in your everyday conversations.
Toward Vs Towards: A Discussion
Do you prefer going ‘towards’ your destination? Or do you like going ‘toward’ your description? Surprisingly, you can do both! However, people favor using the words depending on their location, but it makes more sense to discuss the origins of the two words in detail first.
American English uses ‘toward’ leaving out the ‘s’ while British English does not leave out the ‘s.’ This rule works for all words related to the direction – forward, backward, upward, downward. However, people end up using the two words in place of each other only due to their versatile interchangeability.
Interestingly, both the words were introduced into literature and then inevitably everyday tongue, around the same time. Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales was written between 1387 and 1400 when the spoken and written language was not standardized. Despite being a magnanimous part of British literature, Chaucer used ‘toward’ and not ‘towards.’
Grammar fanatics have been obsessed with the toward vs towards argument for many years now. While Americans boasted the supremacy of ‘toward,’ the British were no less and kept their love for ‘towards’ constant. However, there is no rule to choose one word over the other, especially spelling.
The word ‘toward’ is related to movement and direction. Consequently, the term is used literally for explaining which direction you are moving, and symbolically, ‘toward’ highlights ‘in relation to.’ The two terms are also used to mean ‘for the purpose of’ or ‘nearness in the context of time and space.’
While the two words can be used in place of each other as prepositions due to their interchangeability, unfortunately, you cannot use ‘towards’ in place of ‘toward’ if you were using it as an adjective. In the case of an adjective, you need to leave the ‘s’ out like the British writers.
It is interesting to note that you can use towards or toward in respect to both time or location as prepositions in a sentence. Thus, both ‘toward’ and ‘towards’ have the exact definition and purpose. For instance, ‘Rohit moved towards his expansion plans quickly’ or ‘Rohit moved towards his expansion plans quickly.’
3. The Difference
When used as a preposition, you can use toward or towards since the toward vs towards disagreement does not even hold in this case. The two words have a similar spelling and meaning. When you think about it, the only difference is all because of that one isolated ‘s.’
Conventionally, while ‘toward’ is preferred in the United States and Canada, other English-speaking countries like the United Kingdom and Australia use ‘towards.’ While this minor regional difference comes up in the Chicago Manual of Style, The AP Stylebook advises readers to opt for the word with the relatively short spelling.
Additionally, towards or toward can both be traced back to the old English language, most of which has become archaic today. ‘Toward’ came from ‘toweard,’ which was used if you would move in the direction of something. ‘Towards’ naturally evolved from ‘toweards,’ an old English adverb.
Toward vs Towards: When And How To Use These Words?
Now that you have understood the meaning and function of towards or toward, figuring out when to use the two words will not be a complex task, especially now that you can differentiate between both the words. Instead of picking sides in the toward vs towards debate, use both as and when required.
When you are trying to express a direction or a purpose in a sentence, you can accurately use toward or towards as prepositions. However, it is vital to remember that you need an object to use with the two words while doing so. Additionally, you can only use ‘toward’ as an adjective.
A few examples mentioned below will help you better understand the toward vs towards segment.
- I am shifting to my new apartment towards the end of the month – ‘towards’ here refers to nearness in the context of time.
- The car is heading towards the garage on the other side of town – ‘towards’ refers to direction.
- Pam’s feelings toward her husband lessened with each passing day, making her more distant – ‘toward’ here refers to relation.
Here are some more examples of how Towards/Toward can be used in a sentence:
- Caroline leant across the table towards/toward him.
- It’s the business of the individual to determine his own attitude towards/toward religion.
- My feelings towards/toward Susan have changed over the years.
- 71 percent of the entire budget went towards/toward the military.
- Darian darted toward/towards the house.
- She hugged herself and hurried towards/toward the door to the pub.
- She followed him with her eyes as he retreated toward/towards the kitchen.
- Towards/toward evening he told his men to ride home by the main road while he went by another way that was somewhat longer.
- He pushed her away and moved toward/towards the bed.
- This was a company with a very casual attitude toward/towards safety.
- He said nothing as they exited and drove north, toward/towards the highway.
- Her glance toward/towards the mountain mansion told him things were not going well.
- He looked away, towards/toward the window, hands on his hips.
- She turned away and started toward/towards the barracks.
- Patterson pointed toward/towards a plain cardboard box beneath a long wooden table.
- Not everyone in the world will be kind and caring towards/toward you.
Other Prepositions Of Direction Similar To Toward/Towards
Toward/Towards is a preposition of direction because it is used to indicate the location of a noun such as a person or an object with respect to another noun. They can often be found with verbs of motion. There are several other prepositions of directions in English grammar. These are as follows:
This preposition is used to indicate movement or motion in the direction of a physical object or a person. Here are some examples:
- We are going to Scotland next week
- The dog ran to greet us as soon as we arrived.
This preposition is used to refer to the position of the noun on a surface. Here are some examples:
- The cat is sitting on the kitchen table.
- The remote is lying on the sofa
This preposition is used to indicate the position or location of a person, animal and thing inside or within a place or a container. Here are some examples:
- The dog is in the backseat of the car.
- I have kept my passport in my bag.
This preposition is used to indicate or refer to a specific point within a larger area or a place
- Jane is waiting for me at the coffee shop.
- They got married at the town hall.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I Use Toward Or Towards?
The debate of toward vs towards has gone on way too long now. However, both the words have the same meaning, that is, ‘in the direction of.’ Thus, the difference between the two is not based on their meanings but instead regional – while the USA prefers using ‘towards,’ UK uses ‘towards.’
2. How Do You Use The Word Toward?
‘Toward’ is often used when people talk about moving in some direction like ‘we decided to move toward our end goal by December,’ or more literally, ‘the storm is now moving towards the shore.’ Thus, it becomes clear how the word can move in a direction or move in relation to something.
3. Is Towards Formal?
Although many people debate how ‘towards’ is a more word than ‘toward,’ there is no logic behind this deduction. Both the terms have a similar meaning, and it is clear how they are different alternatives to the same word.
4. What Is The Difference Between Toward And To?
‘To’ is a preposition commonly used for specifying place. The word ‘to’ is most often used with a movement or direction verb and naturally showcases the outcome of the movement. In fact, ‘toward’ is a preposition with a similar meaning. However, while the word ‘toward’ highlights the direction, it does not stress the outcome.
5. Is Toward Singular Or Plural?
While using toward or towards as prepositions, know that they have similar meanings and can be used synonymously. The only different quality between the two words is the region where they are being used. For example, while the United States and Canada prefer ‘toward,’ the United Kingdom and Australia use ‘towards.’
The toward vs towards debate is not at all realistic. You can use either of the two words as a preposition in a sentence. Suppose you are a professional writer or use the English language regularly. In that case, it is best to use any version of the word depending on your audience’s or reader’s location.
For instance, if you are a professional content writer catering to an American audience, you will have to use standardized words of American English – ‘color’ instead of ‘colour’ and ‘toward’ instead of ‘towards’ are just two examples. Similarly, while catering to a British audience, it is best to stick to British English.