Toward vs. Towards: When to Use Toward or Towards

Toward vs. towards! When you’re moving in the direction of something, are you going toward or towards it? It can get confusing when there are words that are so similar and don’t seem to have any differences at all. Still, when speaking or writing, you never want the other person to misunderstand you because you’ve used the wrong word, no matter how similar it sounds and looks.

The Key Difference between Toward and Towards

Toward vs. Towards

Toward vs. Towards: Key Takeaways

When we’re writing, we often encounter a choice between the words toward and towards. Let’s break down the essentials:

  • Meaning: Both toward and towards mean “in the direction of“.
  • Usage: We see toward more commonly used in American and Canadian English, while towards tends to be the preference in British English and other forms of English outside of North America.
American English British English
toward towards
  • Formality: In formal writing, choosing one over the other can depend on the audience; for a North American audience, toward might be more appropriate.

Toward vs. Towards: Understanding

Both toward and towards signify movement in the direction of something or someone. They can also indicate a relation to a particular subject or event. Here is a simple breakdown:

Toward Towards
Used mainly in American and Canadian English Commonly used in British, Australian, and other forms of English
Example: We walked toward the sunset. Example: We walked towards the sunset.

The difference lies solely in the regional spelling preferences and not in the meaning of the words. Whether we use “toward” or “towards,” we convey the same idea: movement or direction in relation to a target or subject.

Toward vs. Towards: Usage

We’ll explore how “toward” and “towards” are used in different contexts, and although they’re largely interchangeable, certain conventions exist.

When to Use Toward

“Toward” is often preferred in American and Canadian English.

  • In print: We see “toward” more commonly in formal writing, including published books and articles within the United States and Canada.
  • In speech: Even when we speak, we Americans tend to drop the ‘s’ and simply say “toward.”

When to Use Towards

“Towards” is favored in British, Australian, and other forms of English outside North America.

  • In print: In the UK or Australia, “towards” dominates in newspapers and literary works.
  • In speech: When we’re in the UK, we’ll hear “towards” used more frequently in everyday conversation.

Tips for Using Toward vs. Towards

Here’s a simple breakdown to help us decide which form to use:

American English British English
toward towards

When writing, we should also consider the following tips:

  • Consistency is crucial: Once we choose “toward” or “towards,” let’s stick with it throughout our document to maintain consistency.
  • Formality: In more formal writing, we might prefer the version that is more common for the English variety we are using.

Toward vs. Towards Examples in Sentences

Examples of “Toward” in Sentences

  1. She took a step toward the door, ready to leave.
  2. His attitude toward work is very positive and proactive.
  3. The cat crept slowly toward the unsuspecting bird.
  4. He made a generous donation toward the charity fundraiser.
  5. The company is making significant progress toward achieving its environmental goals.

Examples of “Towards” in Sentences

  1. The crowd moved towards the stage as the concert began.
  2. She has always been kind towards animals and cares for them deeply.
  3. The wind blew fiercely towards the coast, causing high waves.
  4. They have been working hard towards completing the project on time.
  5. His feelings towards the issue changed after he learned more about it.

Toward vs. Towards Exercises

Fill in the blank 

  1. She took a step __________ the door, ready to leave.
  2. His attitude __________ work has become much more positive recently.
  3. The cat ran __________ me when I called its name.
  4. They have been working __________ completing the project before the deadline.
  5. He has always been kind __________ his neighbors.
  6. The wind is blowing __________ the east today.
  7. The company made a significant donation __________ the charity.
  8. The crowd moved __________ the stage to get a better view of the performance.
  9. Her contribution __________ the discussion was very insightful.
  10. The budget cuts have been directed __________ reducing unnecessary expenses.

Answer and Explanation 

  1. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: Both “toward” and “towards” can be used here as a preposition to indicate direction.
  2. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: Either “toward” or “towards” can be used to indicate someone’s feelings or attitude in relation to something.
  3. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: Both “toward” and “towards” function here to show the direction of the cat’s movement.
  4. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: “Toward” or “towards” can be used to indicate the direction of effort or progress.
  5. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: Either can be used to describe the manner in which someone acts in relation to others.
  6. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: Both “toward” and “towards” are correct for indicating the direction of the wind.
  7. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: Either “toward” or “towards” can be used to indicate the direction of the donation.
  8. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: “Toward” or “towards” can be used to show movement in a particular direction.
  9. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: Both are correct for indicating the relationship between the contribution and the discussion.
  10. Answer: toward/towards
    • Explanation: “Toward” or “towards” can be used to show the aim or purpose of the budget cuts.

Frequently Asked Question

Is there a difference between ‘toward’ and ‘towards’?

Toward and towards are both prepositions meaning in the direction of someone or something, or close in location or time. They are interchangeable and the choice between them is generally a matter of regional preference.

Which is preferred in American and Canadian English?

In American and Canadian English, toward without an s is the more common form.

What about British and Australian English?

British and Australian English prefer the spelling towards with an s at the end.

Does the choice between ‘toward’ and ‘towards’ affect the meaning?

The choice does not affect the meaning. Both forms convey the same concept and can be used in the same contexts. They are simply variant spellings.

Region Preferred Spelling
United States Toward
Canada Toward
United Kingdom Towards
Australia Towards

Are there any rules for choosing between ‘toward’ and ‘towards’?

No rules dictate the choice. Writers should consider their audience and follow the regional preference for consistency. If writing for an international audience, either form can be used.