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Anyway vs. anyways

Anyways is a colloquial variant of the adverb anyway. It has a casual tone and may be considered out of place in formal or serious writing. In such contexts, anyway is safer.

Although considered informal, anyways is not wrong. In fact, there is much precedent in English for the adverbial -s suffix, which was common in Old and Middle English and survives today in words such as towardsoncealways, and unawares. But while these words survive from a period of English in which the adverbial -s was common, anyways is a modern construction (though it is now several centuries old).

Anyways is sometimes useful for creating an informal or colloquial tone, which may be what these writers have in mind:


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Anyways, it’s time to move on. [NY Times]

Whatever. Home Improvement sucked anyways. [Bleacher Report]

But in writing that is not intended to have a colloquial tone, anyway works in its place—for example:

Why is Google building a Google phone, anyway? [The Atlantic]

It can be nearly impossible to see from publicly available data which banks are extending or restructuring loans they believe will one day fail anyway. [Wall Street Journal]

Anyway, I think it’s pretty hard to make a bad Hurley episode. [Chicago Tribune]

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Comments

  1. “…may be considered out place in formal or serious writing”

    Should it be “out of place” instead of “out place”? Or does “out place” mean something else?

  2. I’m not a native speaker, so I’m wondering if I can use ‘anyway’ in all contexts; I mean to avoid using ‘anyways’ ? It still be somehow confusing:(
    What do you suggest? Thanks in advance :)

  3. It drives me nuts to hear people say “anyways”. It sounds ignorant. I think less of what is being said. Well educated people that say or write “anyways” give me the impression they were taught by todays mass instructed teachers that don’t understand the English language. How many teachers today even know how to diagram a sentence? Our language is dying just like our culture.

    • JohnJohnJ says:

      mass instructed teachers WHO don’t understand…

    • Dutch Brannigan says:

      elda, what is the point of language? To appease you or to communicate with people? Quite sure it is the latter. Do you realize that English is a bastard language that came from people improperly speaking other languages?

      If it drives you nuts to hear “Anyways” maybe you are just that…nutz.

    • I’m in total agreement with you Elda. Even thought, I’m not a native speaker of the English language, I never use the colloquial adverb ‘anyways’, since I know it’s grammatically incorrect, but I have seen TV anchormen and other personalities using it with great frequency.

    • “anyways” IMHO It’s used allot here in Florida, USA but I would NEVER write it unless to a friend in something very informal like texting!!!
      Same as y’all, Coke, (most Florida talk is lazy talk, IMHO) , (vs soda or pop, any type intended Pepsi Coke a Cola, generic, if the answer to “Y’all want a Coke?” Reply is “which flavor?” )

  4. Isn’t “anyways” just plural?

  5. Jaime Friggin Allsup says:

    Allow me to be the first person to address what I see as the real elephant in the room.

    “Although considered informal, anyways is not wrong. In fact, there is much precedent in English for the adverbial -s suffix, which was common in Old and Middle English and survives today in words such as towards, once, always, and unawares”

    Why is the word “once” in the list of examples of other words ending with the -s suffix?

  6. Tammy Wolfe says:

    While anyways is not grammatically incorrect, it should not be used in a more serious setting. If it makes you uncomfortable, then don’t use it.

    What I really want to know is why it is necessary to insult someone over a difference of opinion? This is not the fifth grade. You will get more respect if you don’t behave like the class bully.

  7. Tyler Stockdale says:

    Y’all is actually a lexicon and is considered proper English, but only in the context of Southern American English.
    Personally, I cringe at the very word as it’s an improper contraction, yet with other accents it’s taught as acceptable grammar. Since there are regional variations in English I’ve been learning to acquiesce to them.

    So if you have a Southern accent I’ll be okay with the use of the word; however, if you are born a Northern American, Canadian or UK and say “ya’ll” I would seriously believe you were uneducated. Even the African American community who, granted are of another ethnicity, shouldn’t use the word (in my opinion.) This kind of language is what I consider ghetto-speak, but people might disagree.

    In terms of the word “anyways”, this is unacceptable in any English language. I never knew it was used in older English, although there are many words that become phased-out. That is the crazy thing with English: it is living, always changing and adapting. There are many archaic words that become obsolete and I think it’s sad, but they become words that aren’t required anymore. If you read Shakespeare’s work you’ll see alot of old English and Shakespearian words. During his time he was praised as a phenomal writter and playwright, and given that he invented new words that became very common during his century. But like many good things in life they died and became replaced with newer words. Colloquialism in speech is also very common in speech today and I’m comfortable with it. I even use alot of idioms and phrases in speech, but I would NEVER use them in writing.

    At the end of the day good grammar is very important. (Oops, I think that is colloquial!)
    It is always good to have an open debate and share our thoughts about English. To me, it’s one of the best ways to learn.

  8. Tyler Stockdale says:

    And a note to the writter – I think I may have noticed a minute grammatical error in your page, though I am by no means a descent writer or linguist.

    It is in the second sentence of the second paragraph: “Although considered informal, anyways is not wrong. In fact, there is much precedent in English for the adverbial -s suffix, which was common in Old and Middle English and survives today in words such as towards, once, always, and unawares.”

    I’m not sure what this might be called in grammar, but I think the word “precedent” (adjective) needs a noun or pronoun, for instance: “there is much precedent use in English”, there are many precedent words in English”, or “, it is much precedent in English.”

    I am truly poor in English except in certain areas. I have a disposition of being articulate and nit picky with speech and writting, yet I struggle with grammar everyday. I’m glad I’m at least relentless with it, though on the contrary there is much more to English than grammar. I’m taking ELA 30-1 and am truly struggling with it, but I love it and hope to pass with great marks. Never give up!

    • Tyler Stockdale says:

      Also, I think you can change “precedent” to the noun “precedence.” I know that a sentence needs to have a certain number of things, and in this case I think it’s missing a “topic”, but I’m really not sure. If ANYONE would like to elaborate on this, please do!

  9. Tyler Stockdale says:

    P.S – Thanks for sharing the amazing and interesting post! This is honestly one of my most favorite websites ever!

  10. I believe “anyways” is incorrect no matter how you use it and this is why: the first part of the compound is any, which is a singular adjective, as in “any man.” The speaker cannot say “ask any mans.” Therefore, no speaker can say correctly ” any ways.” The speaker may say all ways or some ways, but not any ways. That is how I see it.

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