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Published by at March 21st, 2024 , Revised On March 26, 2024

Toward Vs Towards: Differences & Examples

The prepositions “toward” and “towards” often trip up writers. They seem identical in meaning, and for the most part, they are. However, there are some differences in usage and regional preferences to consider. 

Toward Towards 
DefinitionIn the direction of or with respect toIn the direction of or with respect to
ExampleHe walked toward the store.She gestured towards the exit.

The Meaning & Function

Both “toward” and “towards” function as prepositions, indicating direction (physical or metaphorical) or movement in relation to something. They can be used in sentences like:

  1. We walked toward the beach. (Physical direction)
  2. She showed great interest in her colleagues. (Metaphorical direction)
  3. The company is taking steps toward sustainability. (Movement)

Notice how both options convey the same meaning in these examples.

Why Are Spellings Different

The key difference lies in the spelling. Here’s the regional breakdown:

  • Toward (without “s”) is preferred in American English and Canada.
  • Towards (with “s”) is more common in British English, Australia, and other Commonwealth countries.

This difference arose from historical variations in spelling preferences across continents. Both spellings have been around for centuries, but American English gradually favoured the shorter version.

Forward Vs Toward

“Forward” typically implies movement in the front or ahead, while “toward” indicates direction or orientation toward a specific object or goal. “Forward” can also convey progress or advancement, while “toward” focuses on a specific destination or aim.

Important Note:  While there’s a regional preference, either spelling is grammatically correct. You won’t be wrong to use “towards” in the US or “toward” in Australia.

When Does Usage Really Matter?

While both spellings are generally interchangeable, some style guides offer recommendations:

  • The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style prefer “toward” in American English for consistency.
  • Using the regionally appropriate spelling might be a good idea for formal writing, especially if your audience is international.

Here’s a helpful tip: If you are unsure, “toward” is a safe bet for most situations, particularly in North American contexts.

Additional Considerations

Here are some additional points to keep in mind:

  • Formality: “Towards” might be perceived as slightly more formal than “toward” in some circles.
  • Sound Preference: Some writers simply prefer the sound of one over the other. There is no right or wrong answer here, it’s a matter of personal taste.
  • Context: In very rare cases, the specific context might influence your choice. For instance, some argue that “towards” might be slightly better suited for abstract concepts. However, this distinction is so minor that it’s generally not a major concern.

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Examples Of Toward Vs Towards

Toward Towards
He walked toward the store. He walked towards the store.
Our team is moving toward a victory. Our team is moving towards a victory.
The river flows toward the ocean. The river flows towards the ocean.
She leaned toward the door. She leaned towards the door.
The dog ran toward its owner. The dog ran towards its owner.
They’re taking steps toward peace. They’re taking steps towards peace.
His behaviour changed toward success. His behaviour changed towards success.
The project is progressing toward completion. The project is progressing towards completion.
The road leads toward the mountains. The road leads towards the mountains.
His interest is slowly moving toward humour and comedy. His interest is slowly moving towards humour and comedy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Both “toward” and “towards” are correct, with “toward” being more commonly used in American English, while “towards” is more prevalent in British English. Both terms convey the direction of movement or orientation towards something. Choose the one that fits the style guide or preference of your audience or publication.

Yes, “toward” and “towards” can generally be used interchangeably to indicate direction or orientation. However, their usage may vary based on regional preferences or style guides, with “toward” being more common in American English and “towards” in British English.

“To” indicates direction without implying movement, as in “She pointed to the sky.” “Toward” indicates movement or orientation in a particular direction, as in “She walked toward the horizon.”

The Chicago Manual of Style does not make a distinction between “toward” and “towards.” Both are considered acceptable variants, and writers may choose whichever form they prefer, based on personal preference or regional usage.

Both “toward school” and “towards school” are correct. The choice between them depends on personal preference or regional usage. “Toward” is more common in American English, while “towards” is more prevalent in British English.

“Towards” is a preposition that indicates direction or orientation in relation to something. It signifies movement or facing in the direction of a particular object, place, or goal. For example, “She walked towards the park.”