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Toward vs. Towards (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use toward vs. towards with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Today's post is one of those fun ones where both words mean the same thing and are correct when using the English language...depending on where you're located (think canceled vs. cancelled). O English language, you are so maddeningly fun!

(Grammar rules for writers.)

So let's break out our maps again and move toward (or towards) some answers.

toward_vs_towards_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Toward vs. Towards

Toward is a preposition that means in the direction of. Like you are moving toward the city...or moving toward the light...or moving toward the chips and dip (mmm...chips and dip). These could be physical destinations, but you could also move toward sanity or greatness. 

(7 Steps Toward Writing Your Transformational Book.)

Meanwhile, towards is a preposition that means in the direction of. Like you are moving towards, well, the things we mentioned above, including the elusive chips and dip. But also sanity, greatness, and other things (concrete and abstract).

So case closed, right? You can use either, right? Well, not exactly. The Chicago and AP style guides both agree that toward is the preferred usage in North America. However, most other English-speaking places around the world prefer towards.

Make sense?

Here are a couple examples:

Correct (in London, Kentucky): The red team moved the ball toward the goal.
Incorrect (in London, Kentucky): The red team moved the ball towards the goal.

Correct (in London, England): The red team moved the ball towards the goal.
Incorrect (in London, England): The red team moved the ball toward the goal.

I don't have any special tricks for remembering this one outside of the fact that American English tends to drop double l's down to single l's. So apparently, we don't like excess (or the occasional "s" that could be a "z"). Just remember: Use toward in North America; use towards everywhere else.

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Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

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