Toward or towards



I never know whether to use toward or towards. What's the difference between them?



In my experience, toward is American English usage and towards is British English. The terms are seldom intermingled within American English or British English.

Or are there special occasions where, say, towards might be used in American English?



Barry is correct in identifying toward as principally American English and towards as principally British English.

This difference is also noted in Quirk, Celce-Murcia, The Collins COBUILD, L.G. Alexander, and various dictionaries.

Quirk (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, Longman, 1985) notes that the -ward/-wards distinction is also true for words such as "eastward/eastwards" and "upward/upwards."

An interesting caveat: The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, p. 335, gives this entry for toward: "toward (not towards)". No further description.


Return to the Key Word Index