The meaning of both words is the same within the same context, but the meaning depends on whether the word is used as an adjective or a preposition. As an adjective, “toward(s)” means coming soon or happening at the moment. As a preposition, “toward(s)” can mean several different things depending on the context of its usage; it can mean in a certain direction, relating to, not long prior to or as providing help or assistance to accomplish something. Ultimately, different countries and types of English writers prefer one spelling over the other. Both spellings are equally correct.
“Toward” is most often preferred in American English and Canadian English, although Canadian English speakers and writers are more tolerant of both spellings. For example, the following examples show the incorrect and correct usage according to these preferences:
Viewed as incorrect: She should keep moving towards the bright light.
Viewed as correct: When moving toward the railroad crossing, it is important to adhere to any flashing lights.
“Towards” is the most often the preferred spelling in British and Australian English. In most cases, these writers view toward as incorrect; although, technically, it is not. The following examples are considered incorrect and correct under these preferences:
Viewed as incorrect: The bus should arrive a little toward the end of the evening.
Viewed as correct: When driving towards the mountains, you want to make sure your tires are properly prepared to drive through snow and over ice.
Most style guides do not expressly state a preference or difference between toward and towards spelling. However, the Associated Press (AP) style dictates that “toward” is always correct and that “towards” is incorrect. In most cases however, either spelling of the word is sufficient, acceptable and correct – even if one is preferred over the other in specific locations. Whether you choose to spell the word with the “s” or without it, always make sure to consistently employ the same spelling.