Toward vs. Towards

Tomee Cseh

English is full of little quirks, and one common head-scratcher is the difference between toward vs towards. Though they might seem interchangeable, a closer look reveals a subtle distinction that can affect how clear your message is.

What are the Basics?

Both “toward” and “towards” work as prepositions, showing movement or direction. The main difference lies in where you are on the map.

AspectTowardTowards
American EnglishCommonOkay, but less common
British EnglishOkay, but less commonCommon

What’s the Geographical Difference?

American English:

  • Toward: The go-to choice in the U.S.
  • Example: He walked toward the sunset, lost in thought.

British English:

  • Towards: More the norm in the UK.
  • Example: She strolled towards the garden gate, thinking about things.

Frequency in Usage:

The preference might shift based on where you are, but it’s good to know which term shows up more often.

ContextToward UsageTowards Usage
Formal WritingRegularLess regular
Informal ConversationsRegularLess regular
Literary WorksRegularLess regular

How to Use in Context?

The meaning doesn’t change much, but the context can sway your choice.

Toward (Objective):

  • Often used when you’re talking facts.
  • Example: The spaceship is heading toward Mars at an astonishing speed.

Towards (Subjective):

  • More likely in personal or metaphorical situations.
  • Example: She felt drawn towards a new beginning.

Here is a table for better understanding:

ConsiderationToward SelectionTowards Selection
Formal WritingClear choiceOkay, but be careful
Informal ConversationsBoth workPersonal preference

What is the Difference between “Toward” and “Towards”?

“Toward” and “towards” are prepositions indicating direction or movement. While Americans prefer “toward,” the British often use “towards.” The choice depends on formality and context; “toward” is common in formal writing, while “towards” suits personal or metaphorical situations.

How to Use Toward and Towards in Parts of Speech?

“Toward” and “towards” are prepositions, and their usage remains consistent regardless of the part of speech they relate to. As prepositions, they indicate direction, movement, or orientation towards someone or something. Here’s how they can be used in different parts of speech:

Preposition:

  • Usage: Indicates direction, movement, or orientation.
  • Example: He walked toward the park.
  • Example: The cat pounced towards its prey.

Adjective:

  • Usage: Rarely used as adjectives, but when they are, it’s to describe something with a sense of direction.
  • Example: The path towards enlightenment is not always clear.
  • Example: They took a step toward progress.

Adverb:

  • Usage: Occasionally used as adverbs to modify verbs or adjectives, expressing direction or inclination.
  • Example: She leaned toward the microphone to speak more clearly.
  • Example: The debate is moving towards a resolution.

Noun:

  • Usage: Rarely used as nouns, but in certain contexts, they can represent the concept of direction or orientation.
  • Example: The toward of the ship indicated a new destination.
  • Example: Let’s focus on the towards of our efforts.

Conjunction:

  • Usage: Not used as conjunctions; they function strictly as prepositions to show direction or orientation.

Pro Tip: If you talk to Americans, pick “toward.” Chatting with Brits? Go with “towards.” Match it to your crowd, and you’re good to go

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the difference between “toward” and “towards” is subtle but important. Americans usually go for “toward,” while the British often use “towards.” For formal writing and casual talks, “toward” is common; for more personal or metaphorical situations, you might lean towards “towards.”