Toward vs Towards – What is the Difference?

(Last Updated On: February 23, 2018)

Toward vs Towards
When leaning toward boosting your career, studies show that it is important to work towards better communication for success. One aspect of communication among others is grammar, or the specifics and structure of the language. A frequent grammar question is: what is the difference between toward vs towards?

Knowing the answer won’t get you a better job, but paying attention to the finer details such as grammar and spelling certainly won’t hinder your success in any way.

Should You Use Toward or Towards?

It’s hard to say if this is good news or bad news, but technically it doesn’t matter. Toward and towards both have the same meaning:

In the direction of; in relation to.

The difference in spelling is a matter of preference. The widely accepted American and Canadian spelling is without the “s”, or toward. Conversely, the common British spelling is towards, with the additional consonant.

That makes things both easy and complicated. You’re right no matter what you choose! But if you want to show attention to detail, change your spelling based on the context. For example, a British reviewer may think your application contains an error if you use American spelling and vice versa. In a world of global economy these lines will probably get blended and blurred even more over time.

But how did it get this way?

Why Are There Two Spellings for One Word?

Language morphs over time. Linguistics is the study of how language changes and evolves and takes a more comprehensive approach to grammar than “right” and “wrong.” By looking at the history of a word and its usage, the reason for differentiations becomes apparent.

The preposition toward can be traced back to its first usage in Olde English. It was derived from the word “toweard” which was a conjugation of the adjective meaning “coming, facing, approaching.” Its original meaning was like today’s in that it was used as a preposition to mean “in the direction of.”

Although the etymology of the word hasn’t changed, the spelling has. Many of the differences in spelling between American and British English such as this one were most likely a result of Noah Webster, the one and only author of Webster’s dictionary. He went with his preferences for spelling when recording the words and their definitions. As the primary source for standard spelling, that is how it came to be.

What is the Difference Between Toward vs Towards?

Semantically speaking there is no difference. The difference is in the phonetics. One has an additional consonant and the other doesn’t. Both are correct and mean the same thing!

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