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Is It Towards Or Toward

Published by at February 13th, 2024 , Revised On February 29, 2024

The English language is a fascinating tapestry of words and expressions, and while many words may seem interchangeable, there are subtle areas that set them apart. One such pair that often perplexes writers is “toward” and “towards.” Are they truly interchangeable, or is there a difference between the two confusing words?

Defining “Toward” And “Towards”

Both “toward” and “towards” function as prepositions, indicating direction or movement in relation to someone or something. They imply a sense of orientation, pointing to a destination or indicating a course. 

Despite their similarities, the choice between them is not always arbitrary, and understanding their specific applications can enhance precision in communication.

The Distinction Between “Toward” and “Towards”

At a fundamental level, “toward” and “towards” share the same meaning, and in many contexts, they can be used interchangeably. However, there is a stylistic difference that writers should be aware of. 

“Toward” is the preferred form in American English, while “towards” is more commonly used in British English. This regional distinction is not a strict rule, and you may encounter variations in usage, but it serves as a general guideline.

For example:

  • American English: He walked toward the store.
  • British English: She strolled towards the garden.

Understanding these subtle distinctions can contribute to maintaining consistency in writing and aligning with regional language conventions.

Examples Of “Toward” And “Towards” In Context

To grasp the practical application of these prepositions, let’s explore various examples:

Directional Movement

  • Toward: The marathon runners sprinted toward the finish line.
  • Towards: The river flows towards the east.

Figurative Use

  • Toward: The company is working toward achieving its sustainability goals.
  • Towards: He took a significant step towards personal development.

Temporal Orientation

  • Toward: The project is scheduled to be completed toward the end of the month.
  • Towards: She made progress towards her career goals over the years.

Expressing Approach

  • Toward: The dog moved toward its owner, wagging its tail.
  • Towards: The negotiations are moving towards a positive resolution.

Spatial Reference

  • Toward: The hikers headed toward the mountain summit.
  • Towards: The garden is towards the back of the house.

In each example, both “toward” and “towards” can be used without drastically altering the meaning. However, by being mindful of the preferred usage based on regional conventions, a writer can enhance the overall coherence and fluidity of their work.

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Common Errors and Misconceptions

Given the subtle nature of the difference between “toward” and “towards,” it’s not uncommon for writers to make inadvertent errors. Some may assume that one is more formal than the other, but this is not the case. Formality is not a decisive factor in choosing between them.

Additionally, some writers may use “towards” exclusively, influenced by British English conventions, without recognising that both forms are acceptable. Conversely, an overreliance on “toward” in British English contexts may sound unusual to native speakers.

Tips For Correct Usage

To understand “toward” and “towards” effectively, consider the following tips:

  • Know Your Audience: If you are writing for a specific audience or publication, be aware of regional language preferences.
  • Read Widely: Exposure to a variety of texts, especially those aligned with the regional variant you are targeting, can enhance your intuitive grasp of the language.
  • Context Matters: While the general rule is to use “toward” in American English and “towards” in British English, both can be appropriate in various contexts. Pay attention to the stylistic choices of the authors you admire and respect.
  • Edit and Proofread: In the final stages of writing, dedicate time to meticulous editing and proofreading. This allows you to catch any inadvertent errors and ensures consistency in your language use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Both “toward” and “towards” are correct, but their usage depends on regional preferences. “Toward” is commonly preferred in American English, while “towards” is more prevalent in British English. Choose the form that aligns with your regional conventions for clearer communication.

Both “toward” and “towards” are correct, but the choice depends on regional variations. In American English, use “toward,” while in British English, “towards” is more common. Select the form that aligns with your regional conventions for precise and effective communication.

“To” and “towards” both indicate direction, but they have nuanced differences. “To” generally denotes a destination or endpoint, while “towards” suggests a direction or movement in a specific orientation. Use “to” for a point of arrival and “towards” when emphasising the directional aspect of movement or orientation.

“Towards me” indicates movement or direction in your proximity. It implies someone or something is moving closer to you or oriented in your direction. The term captures the sense of approaching or facing in relation to your position or presence.

“Toward” functions as a preposition in grammar, indicating direction or movement in relation to someone or something. It is part of English prepositional phrases and is used to convey the orientation or destination of an action. It is commonly used in both American and British English.

Both “onward” and “onwards” are correct, but their usage depends on regional variations. “Onward” is more common in American English, while “onwards” is often preferred in British English. Choose the form that aligns with your regional conventions for clarity and consistency in your communication.

The preposition “towards” indicates direction or orientation in relation to someone or something. It signifies movement or facing in a specific direction, emphasising the approach or progress. Used to convey the target or destination of an action, it adds clarity to descriptions involving movement or spatial relationships.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.