toward and towards

 In Rules and Usage

Toward and towards – does it matter which word you use?
Though there is a perception that the words, toward and towards, which are both prepositions, have distinctive and separate usages, in fact they can be used interchangeably. They have exactly the same meaning. It is all a matter of style, and what people feel most comfortable using in spoken or written English.

toward  and towards – the same definition

near; at hand; in state of preparation; toward
“in the direction of someone or something, or close in location or time.”

Toward and towards, as prepositions, are followed by nouns or noun phrases.
Here are some examples where you can see how toward or towards can be used interchangeably.
(attitude) toward(s)
“I’m inclined toward(s) climbing the smaller hill.”
(to turn) toward(s)
“The yacht turned toward(s) the finish line.”
toward(s) the middle (time expression)
“The show opens toward(s) the middle of next week.”

Toward and towards are used pretty much interchangeably in spoken language, with towards being the most common way to express the word in spoken English, both British and American. Toward tends to be heard more in spoken American English.
However, when it is used in written language, toward is adopted as the preposition much more than towards.

Although some grammarians do try to distinguish between the words toward and towards, the difference is really one of dialect, and regional and national linguistic patterns.

Toward and towards are both correct and can both be used, as their meanings are identical. As we have noted towards is more common in British English than in American English, so perhaps your guide should simply be to use the most common form that is used when in that country, that is, towards in Britain and toward in the U.S.A.


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