Toward vs towards, what is the correct use of these two words? Obviously, they are similar, and practically identical in meaning, but if all that is true, what makes them different, and why does it matter which is used? If this has been on your mind lately, you’ve come to the right place. The correct usage of towards vs toward is like an everlasting war within the English community. Different people have their different opinions, and then there’s fact. Keep reading to learn more!
Difference between towards and toward
Okay, so, first of all, let me start off by saying that Americans, or perhaps just English speakers in general, love to overthink things such as grammar and the careful choosing of words. This can be quite annoying and confusing when learning English as a second language. The short answer to this is that the only difference is the added “s” at the end. That’s all. These words are identical, and can be used interchangeably. However, the difference here lies in the region in which you’re using these words. In American, where American English is spoken, people tend to use toward. However, in the United Kingdom, where British English is spoken, people tend to use towards.
When are ‘towards and toward’ used?
Is the ball coming toward your face or towards your face? Does it matter? Not really. Should you move? Yes, definitely. Define towards vs toward? Well, we have established that these two words are essentially the same, so let’s look at how we use them.
To show reason
The following example sentences use towards, or toward, to show reason.
- Every monthly payment will go toward your overall balance due.
- Completing the assignments on time goes towards the objective of graduating.
To show direction
Now remember, there’s no difference between toward and towards in the most general sense of these words. They are interchangeable. However, it is more common to use the form towards when you’re speaking of directions.
- Michelle walked towards the counter to check out.
- I just bought a house towards the airport; I hope it’s not too loud.
How to use ‘towards’ in a sentence
Ok, so we have a basic understanding of when to use toward vs towards, right? Let’s dig even further deeper into this, and see some examples of how to use “towards”, specifically, in a sentence because toward vs towards grammar, can sometimes differ. They are both prepositions that mean “in the direction of”, but, as we have learned in this post, it really just depends on the person and the region is which you’re speaking of/ in.
- Joseph moved towards the stereo, to inconspicuously turn the music down.
- Maria hugged her mom, then ran towards the bus.
- Noah darted towards the door.
- I always hurry, towards the parking lot, after work.
- “Towards midnight, the crazies come out,” said Joe.
- The milk is located at the front of the store, towards the bakery section.
- My mom leaned towards the door, in order to listen in on my sister’s phone conversation.
- He looked towards the sun, but it was too bright for him to bare.
- The murder ran towards his next victim.
- I had to turn towards the wall because the light, from the window, was too bright.
Rules for using toward
I know this may sound repetitive by now, but the rules and use of toward vs towards are fairly simple, I promise. After all, the only difference is the ‘s’ at the end. One important thing to note, however, is that toward can also be used as an adjective. However, it is mainly used as a preposition. In it’s prepositional form, “towards” means in the direction of, for a certain purpose, near, facing, or in regards to. Let’s look at some example sentences where “toward” is used.
- He pulled his blanket toward his chest.
- I’m putting all this money toward our move.
- My house is at the end of the street, toward the pool and tennis court.
- Shirley’s son’s behavior, toward his father, is unacceptable.
- My son turned toward his brother, with a large grin on his face.
- There is a new hurricane that is hurdling toward the coast.
- I saw the eclipses back in 2017, but I had to be careful while looking toward the sun.
- My son saved up all his money, and put it toward a new game for his Nintendo switch.
- Don’t take another step toward me!
- Toward what place was the dog running when you last saw here? I’m afraid she is missing!
What about other words with “-ward” and “-wards” suffixes?
Ok, so toward or towards grammar is extremely simple and straightforward, but how about other words with similar suffixes? Well, the suffixes “-ward” and “-wards” present spatial or temporal direction. We see this i! other words such as backward(s), upward(s), downward(s) and afterward(s).
Just like toward vs towards, these words can, to a certain extent, be used interchangeably. Why, you ask? Take a guess. Yep, you guessed it, it is because it depends on whether you’re speaking British or American English! In America, I would say “Sally walked backward up the stairs.” Oh the UK, it would be “Sally walked backwards up the stairs.” Now, obviously, it can be either or and both are correct. Personally, although I am American, I prefer using the suffix with an “s” on the end. Yes, it is the British English way of doing things, but if you think about it, American English derived from British English (with a mix of other cultures as well), and that being said, I just prefer the British English way.
All in all, this post is really just saying that both toward and towards are correct. I gave you some insight on why they are both correct, and even some tips on how/ when to use them. However, moving forward, I would say that the usage of these two words, or any words with the suffixes “-ward” or “-wards” is completely personal preference. As you continue on your journey of learning English, I encourage you to find your likes and dislikes. You are not a robot, and you don’t have to do everything according to a book. You will need to find your preferences and personality in English just as you have done with your native language. So, don’t become something you’re not just because it “sounds better” according to someone from some blog post. I gave you the tools to learn the difference between these two words, now it’s up to you to choose the one you like best. Good luck!