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Backward vs backwards

Backward means the opposite way, behind, in reverse, away from the front. Backward may also mean shy, not socially adept, or regressing instead of progressing. While technically backwards is interchangeable with backward, the overwhelmingly preferred spelling in the United States is backward, whether it is used as an adjective or an adverb.

Backwards also means the opposite way, behind, in reverse, away from the front. Backwards may also mean shy, not socially adept, or regressing instead of progressing. In British English, the use of either backward or backwards is technically correct, however the overwhelming preference is to use backward when in need of an adjective and backwards when in need of an adverb.

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Examples

This week, “Microsoft Monday” includes details about 104 backward compatible games for the Xbox One, the Windows 10 Fall Update, the OneDrive storage controversy, an update about Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 pre-installations, a deal with Red Hat being signed and more. (Forbes)

“We definitely took some steps backward in a lot of different ways today that I talked to them about, but I don’t think that’s for this moment.” (The Portland Tribune)

This is an industry sliding backward, its emergency brake not engaged. (The New York Times)

A motorcyclist avoided serious injury when a learner driver reversed backwards at speed straight into his bike. (The MIrror)

Wars and conflicts in the region have put education in a backwards motion, Qatar’s Sheikha Moza bint Nasser said in a major speech this week in Doha. (Arabian Business)

Appealing to the Government to stay true to its own planning policy, Ms Smith said: “Resuming peat extraction on this site would be a huge step backwards, when restoring the site should be a priority.” (The Courier)

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