Toward vs. Towards – What’s the Difference?

Do you walk toward or towards the good in life? The truth is, it doesn’t matter because you’ll arrive there one day. However, regional English varieties and different style manuals have different recommendations on toward vs. towards.

These two terms have been the bane of my author existence for years. My editor constantly makes notes about it. So I developed a way to remember the difference.

My guide will show you the difference between toward and towards in grammar. Learning when to use toward or towards will help you use the correct word based on your writing style.

Toward vs. Towards

Here’s the best and easiest ways I note the differences between the two very similar terms.

Toward vs Towards ngram
Trend of the words toward and towards over the years.

In grammar, both toward and towards are correct spellings for the preposition that means in the direction of. The only variance between the two words is that one has an s in the end, while the other doesn’t.

In casual writing, you can use either toward or towards as you please without committing a grammatical mistake. However, if you have a specific audience, you should follow a few guidelines. The same is true if you must follow a particular writing style.

Geography

As a basic rule, North American English uses toward, and all its surrounding areas use towards.

Toward is the preferred spelling in American and Canadian English. However, some American and Canadian writing pieces still use towards. I know, confusing, right?

In areas outside North America, such as the United Kingdom, towards is more prevalent. Remember that British English words usually use longer words. For instance, instead of color, British spelling uses colour.

Style Guide

The Chicago Manual of Style states that toward is better since it’s more common in American English. Keep in mind that the Chicago Manual of Style is American, so American writers shouldn’t follow the style guide for British English.

The AP Stylebook is another reference book that suggests toward. They compare the preposition to the word forward, which does not have an s in the end.

But The Writer’s Harbrace Handbook recognizes both variations. It considers both toward and towards as acceptable.

Is Towards the Plural of Toward?

Towards is not the plural form of toward because this word is not a noun. Only nouns can have plural forms, and toward is a preposition. Toward can also function as an adjective sometimes, which doesn’t have a singular or plural form.

What Kind of Preposition is Towards?

Towards is a preposition of direction. Preposition are parts of speech that show a connection between nouns, pronouns, and phrases in sentences. You’ll likely find prepositions at the end of the sentence but before a noun or pronoun.

Some prepositions show location, while others represent spatial relationships. Toward is a preposition of direction because it shows the direction in which something or someone travels. Other prepositions of direction include to, into, and from.

Is it Work Toward or Towards?

Both work toward and work towards are appropriate phrases. Toward with and without an s are interchangeable words with regional and style differences.

Toward vs. Towards MLA

MLA doesn’t have a specific guideline on using toward vs. towards.

Toward vs. Towards AP Style

The AP Stylebook recommends toward because it is the shorter spelling. According to its Twitter account, “We use forward and toward, not forwards and towards.”

How Do You Use Towards and Toward in a Sentence?

Grammarist Article Graphic V3 37

Here are some examples I whipped up to show toward and towards in a sentence.

  • The snake crawled towards the dark.
  • Her grandparents drove toward the place and found a vintage-style restaurant that reminded them of the fifties.
  • I now lean toward the Rocks winning this game.
  • I was not fond of your attitude towards me when I asked you something in front of Jonathan.
  • Rota felt a lump in her throat as she continued towards the building.
  • This project moves toward the use of renewable energy to minimize environmental destruction.
  • I moved the wagon towards the yard.

So, Is Toward and Towards the Same?

In most cases, using toward or toward is not a huge grammar mistake. Both words have correct spellings and the same meaning: in the direction of. The only difference between them is the letter s in the end.

In formal writing, you should use toward if you’re writing to North American people or follow the AP Stylebook. Use towards if you write for a British audience.

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