Toward vs Towards

Posted: February 18th, 2014, 1:06 pm   By: brittany.corners

“But look, I mean, is he gonna be able to chase us? Because if I woke up looking like that, I would just run towards the nearest living thing and kill it.”—Master Shake, nervous about the prospect of re-animating his dead neighbor Carl.

This week, we address the topic of using toward or towards.

As this interminable Olympic season draws to its merciful conclusion, a fortnight of battle between the best of the best comes to its end once more. We’ve watched the world’s yuppies sail their boats on Brittania’s filthy waters. We’ve seen wrestlers don unitards and rub against each other. We’ve cheered synchronized swimmers as they do whatever it is they do. On second thought . . . if James Earl Jones were actually a martial arts coach, perhaps the Games would be a bit more exciting. Nonetheless, at the end of this time of great struggle, we should reward ourselves with a competition where every side wins: toward vs. towards.

Toward/Towards

Unlike many issues in our world of prescriptive grammar, toward and towards are interchangeable. Both serve as the same preposition with the same meanings. However, writers should know a difference in usage between British and American English: in the land of Freedom Fries, we tend to employ toward while our former occupiers prefer towards. No matter which version you prefer, you will convey the same ideas:

1) in the direction of

Example: By waterboarding his child, the pediatrician took a big ol’ step toward losing his medical license.

2) in relation to

Example: I have unequivocal feelings toward Olympic racewalking: I enjoy any sport in which competitors move like ducks with traffic cones implanted in their rectal cavities.

3) contributing to

Example: The libertarian finally moved into the woods forever when he learned that his taxes go towards important matters like this.