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Who Watches the...
01-05-2007, 02:38 AM
Could someone clarify the difference between toward and towards?

Does it have something to do with agreement in number?

Jamesaritchie
01-05-2007, 03:46 AM
Could someone clarify the difference between toward and towards?

Does it have something to do with agreement in number?

It takes longer to get where you're going if you add the es.

Seriously, the difference is largely one of US versus UK usage. "Toward" is the most common usage in the US, and "Towards" is the most common usage in the UK.

dgiharris
01-05-2007, 05:50 AM
Personally, I use them interchangeably

If I want to sound more flowery, I use towards, otherwise, I use toward. I've never been corrected for it. Perhaps its one of those invisible words we don't notice until someone brings it up. Kinda like,

regardless vs irregardless. Even though irregardless isn't an official word, everyone uses it and it is a synonym for regardless.

Jamesaritchie
01-05-2007, 05:55 PM
regardless vs irregardless. Even though irregardless isn't an official word, everyone uses it and it is a synonym for regardless.

God, I hope not. I sure don't, and neither does any good writer or editor I know. The moment I hear or read the word "irregardless," I assume I'm talking to a person who isn't anywhere near as literate as they should be.

And unless a writer uses the word "irregardless" in dialogue with the purpose of showing a character isn't educated, I'll stop reading and reach for a rejection slip.

Julie Worth
01-05-2007, 06:03 PM
Personally, I use them interchangeably

If I want to sound more flowery, I use towards, otherwise, I use toward. I've never been corrected for it.


This is bad! (And now you can't say that anymore.)


Perhaps its one of those invisible words we don't notice until someone brings it up. Kinda like,

regardless vs irregardless. Even though irregardless isn't an official word, everyone uses it and it is a synonym for regardless.

The horror! Only ungrammatical bums use irregardless. Use that in a query or opening pages, and you risk getting tossed.

Silver King
01-06-2007, 04:37 AM
If the Grammar forum ever sports a sticky, I expect the question of toward versus towards would be near the top. This issue comes up often, and it doesn't hurt to remember the spelling difference also applies to upward and downward and backward and forward.

Rashenbo
01-06-2007, 04:53 AM
I'm one of those nutty people...

Everytime I see "towards" it's like someone just bumped into me. It draws me out... it drive me crazy. Unless I'm reading a book by a UK or European author - I can't standing seeing "towards". I also find I always comment on it when I critique. I think it sounds off.

Using "irregardless" is like waving a red flag. I can't stand it. The only time I let it slide when I'm reading is if someone says it in dialogue... simply because it is the unfortunate reality that people do use that word.

But I suppose I shouldn't go off on a tangent on that right now :D

arrowqueen
01-06-2007, 04:55 AM
James is right. 'Towards' is the Brit version. 'Toward' is the American variation.

Americans are terrible pragmatists, lopping off letters at the drop of a hat: striding the world in their big woolly sox, waving an ax in one hand and their co...py of Webster's in the other.*

In fact this is why Scrabble was invented by Alfred Butts during the Great Depression. Storing all these unwanted letters in warehouses throughout America was putting a strain on an already over-stretched economy. Butts came to the rescue by not only finding a use for them - but by managing to sell them back to the rest of the world. Problem solved. Hurrah!



* And just what exactly did you think I was going to say?

Sandi LeFaucheur
01-06-2007, 05:31 AM
In fact this is why Scrabble was invented by Alfred Butts during the Great Depression. Storing all these unwanted letters in warehouses throughout America was putting a strain on an already over-stretched economy. Butts came to the rescue by not only finding a use for them - but by managing to sell them back to the rest of the world. Problem solved. Hurrah!

I always wondered what they did with all those letters! Thanks for clearing this up.

Who Watches the...
01-06-2007, 01:07 PM
Really? I could swear that "towards" is used more often in America, especially during conversation. Is one preferred over the other? Or is it like color and colour?

Jamesaritchie
01-06-2007, 04:08 PM
Really? I could swear that "towards" is used more often in America, especially during conversation. Is one preferred over the other? Or is it like color and colour?

It's just my experience, but it seems to me that "toward" is much more common in American writing, on American campus, anywhere there's more education and formality.

"Towards" seems more common with the average person who doesn't read much, or isn't highly educated.

Both are legitimate words, and unlike most UK spelling, I suspect many editors would let either stand.

maestrowork
01-06-2007, 08:43 PM
There's the American vs. British difference. But I also think there's a difference between abstract and concrete:

I walked toward the door.

I have a good feeling towards her.

Jamesaritchie
01-07-2007, 01:21 AM
There's the American vs. British difference. But I also think there's a difference between abstract and concrete:

I walked toward the door.

I have a good feeling towards her.

Nope. Even the latter should be "toward," at least in America.

veronie
01-07-2007, 08:39 AM
I've argued this before on this topic, but the Brits muck it up. No offense intended to the Motherland. And I know not everyone will agree, but I try :)

"Toward" is better than "towards." Toward is a preposition, and there is no need for the "s." You wouldn't say, The ball is aboves the house. The ball is behinds the house. The ball is nears the house. The ball is ins the house. He threw the ball aways from the house.

The "s" seems sloppy to me.

Oh, and you wouldn't walk forwards, would you? Personally, I wouldn't walk backwards either.

maestrowork
01-07-2007, 08:55 AM
This whole "s" issue is as confusing as:

besides vs. beside
afterwards vs. afterward
backwards vs. backward

veronie
01-07-2007, 09:04 AM
Beside for the preposition: She stood beside the statue.
Besides for the adverb: There are other issues I need to work on besides this one.

I'd always go with "afterward" and "backward" for prepositions, for the reason above.

Jamesaritchie
01-07-2007, 04:50 PM
I've argued this before on this topic, but the Brits muck it up. No offense intended to the Motherland. And I know not everyone will agree, but I try :)

"Toward" is better than "towards." Toward is a preposition, and there is no need for the "s." You wouldn't say, The ball is aboves the house. The ball is behinds the house. The ball is nears the house. The ball is ins the house. He threw the ball aways from the house.

The "s" seems sloppy to me.

Oh, and you wouldn't walk forwards, would you? Personally, I wouldn't walk backwards either.


Very good explanation.

Sandi LeFaucheur
01-07-2007, 05:03 PM
Actually, one does walk backwards. This one does, anyway.

Jamesaritchie
01-07-2007, 07:23 PM
Actually, one does walk backwards. This one does, anyway.

I'll have to try that sometime. I usually just walk backward.

Sandi LeFaucheur
01-07-2007, 09:34 PM
I'll have to try that sometime. I usually just walk backward. It's much more fun with the s.

maestrowork
01-07-2007, 09:38 PM
And there's sideway vs. sideways.

Note that the American movie/novel is entitled "Sideways." So I am not sure about the American/UK thing.

maestrowork
01-07-2007, 09:43 PM
Beside for the preposition: She stood beside the statue.
Besides for the adverb: There are other issues I need to work on besides this one.


Actually, at least according to the dictionaries, "besides" is also a preposition, and seems to be interchangeable with "beside."



Usage Note: Some critics argue that beside and besides should be kept distinct when they are used as prepositions. According to that argument, beside is used only to mean "at the side of," as in There was no one in the seat beside me. For the meanings "in addition to" and "except for" besides should be used: Besides replacing the back stairs, she fixed the broken banister. No one besides Smitty would say a thing like that. But this distinction is often ignored, even by widely respected writers. While it is true that besides can never mean "at the side of," beside regularly appears in print in place of besides. Using beside in this way can be ambiguous, however; the sentence There was no one beside him at the table could mean that he had the table to himself or that the seats next to him were not occupied.


English is so confusing!

veronie
01-08-2007, 01:08 AM
Out of curiosity, what dictionary? The one i refer to, Webster's New World College, makes a clear distinction between beside, the preposition, and besides, the adverb.

Oh, I just noticed your usage note says "when they are used as prepositions." That's the key. I would use beside for the proposition in all cases, I believe.

Jamesaritchie
01-08-2007, 04:04 AM
Actually, at least according to the dictionaries, "besides" is also a preposition, and seems to be interchangeable with "beside."



English is so confusing!

What dictionary? Not one of mine even hints that the two words are interchangable.

veronie
01-08-2007, 06:13 AM
Well, perhaps he's right. I looked at it again, and Webster's New World Collegiate does have an adverbial (archaic) usage for beside, and a prepositional usage for besides.

However, it makes clear enough that, in the main, "beside" is preferred for the preposition, and "besides" is preferred for the adverb. And that's how I do it, too.

Jamesaritchie
01-08-2007, 06:02 PM
Well, perhaps he's right. I looked at it again, and Webster's New World Collegiate does have an adverbial (archaic) usage for beside, and a prepositional usage for besides.

However, it makes clear enough that, in the main, "beside" is preferred for the preposition, and "besides" is preferred for the adverb. And that's how I do it, too.

Yes, but "archaic" always means "Do not do this today or readers will think you're nuts!" It's current usage that matters.

readlorey
01-08-2007, 09:27 PM
You should never say towards. What kind of word is that? lol

As for the other words, I agree with most everyone on here. Even Merican is better than this stuff. :tongue

Bartholomew
01-08-2007, 09:55 PM
The American Heritage Dictionary has this to day:


Usage Note: Some critics have tried to discern a semantic distinction between toward and towards, but the difference is entirely dialectal. Toward is more common in American English; towards is the predominant form in British English.

readlorey
01-08-2007, 10:29 PM
Yes, but "archaic" always means "Do not do this today or readers will think you're nuts!" It's current usage that matters.

Hey, my dictionary doesn't say that. WTF???? :D

Jamesaritchie
01-08-2007, 10:57 PM
Hey, my dictionary doesn't say that. WTF???? :D

It says it by using the word "archaic." In this context, it means old and out of date. Your dictionary says almost the same thing when it calls "nonstandard." "Nonstandard" nearly always means "Only people who do not know any better use this word."

arrowqueen
01-09-2007, 01:42 AM
'...the Brits muck it up.'

Er, how can one 'muck up' the original?

Sandi LeFaucheur
01-09-2007, 02:02 AM
It says it by using the word "archaic." In this context, it means old and out of date. Your dictionary says almost the same thing when it calls "nonstandard." "Nonstandard" nearly always means "Only people who do not know any better use this word."

Ha! I'm old and out of date! Does that mean I'm nonstandard and don't know any better? :)


'...the Brits muck it up.'

Er, how can one 'muck up' the original?

And so say all of us. Well, I do, anyway.http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon12.gif

Jamesaritchie
01-09-2007, 03:35 AM
'...the Brits muck it up.'

Er, how can one 'muck up' the original?

Actually, very few words the Brits use are original. The mucked them up when they borrowed them, and expect us to follow suit.

arrowqueen
01-09-2007, 03:45 AM
At least we didn't take a chainsaw to what we'd stolen. :tongue

Judg
01-09-2007, 04:44 AM
Being Canadian, they both sound normal to me... ;) Of course, I spell colour with a U and tire with an I, so what do I know?

A child at a private school for foreign children in India was confused about his nationality. The other children, upon discovering that one parent was British and the other American, naturally concluded that the tyke was Canadian. Nice thought, but I don't think the Department of Immigration would buy it.

Jamesaritchie
01-09-2007, 03:45 PM
At least we didn't take a chainsaw to what we'd stolen. :tongue

Yep, and that's largely why you lost the little war we had. While you guys were busy writing out all those extra letters in communiques, we were fighting.

arrowqueen
01-09-2007, 04:41 PM
Good heavens, James. I knew you said you were clocking on a bit, but I never realised you were that old!

Would you like some gruel? A travelling rug for your knees? A glass of water to soak your wooden teeth?

Jamesaritchie
01-09-2007, 04:57 PM
Good heavens, James. I knew you said you were clocking on a bit, but I never realised you were that old!

Would you like some gruel? A travelling rug for your knees? A glass of water to soak your wooden teeth?

Are you kidding? Just ask my kids. I'm older than rocks.

maestrowork
01-09-2007, 06:57 PM
I think it's just silly. I use both because of my British English background, but when in Rome... so I use the American version now. But toward, towards, colour, color -- just do what's right for your audience.

Jamesaritchie
01-10-2007, 05:21 AM
I think it's just silly. I use both because of my British English background, but when in Rome... so I use the American version now. But toward, towards, colour, color -- just do what's right for your audience.

Better to do what's right for your editor. He's the one who has to work his butt off when you get it wrong.

And, honestly, a writer should know the difference.

Sage
01-10-2007, 08:46 AM
It's so weird that I'm American, but I usually want to use "towards." My mom used to tell me I was wrong, that the word was "toward." I did have a friend from England when I was younger, so maybe I got it from her, but I can't imagine she was saying "towards" enough to ingrain it in my mind. In my last edit I took out the "s" because that's the "American way," but it still seemed more natural to me with the "s."

Sandi LeFaucheur
01-10-2007, 02:54 PM
www.askoxford.com has this on -ward:
ward
(also -wards)

• suffix 1 (usu. -wards) (forming adverbs) towards the specified place or direction: homewards. 2 (usu. -ward) (forming adjectives) turned or tending towards: upward.

— ORIGIN Old English.

Therefore, the adverb usually ends in s, the adjective without s.

And an interesting amendment to the Oxford Dictionary site: there are 2 versions: one for UK and rest of the world, and one for US. Therefore, it seems to me that only the US spells words differently. (The alt tag "UK and rest of world" appears when mouse hovers over UK)

veronie
01-10-2007, 03:11 PM
Majority doesn't always equal logical. See my earlier argument. However, if I was writing for a British publication, I would write towards, even though it would be painful.

Noumea
01-10-2007, 04:08 PM
Very interesting discussion!

As an American working with Brits in a French overseas territory (New Caledonia) I hear both all the time. I must also admit that I often heard towards and backwards used in spoken English in my home state even by "highly educated" people ... but maybe that's because we're near the Canadian border?

So my question to all of you is:
Which form would you use if you were asked to translate a book from French to English and the intended audience is all over (US, Australia, etc.)?
Would it depend on the editor, the person translating (if they speak American or British English) or would there be different versions for each market?

Judg
01-10-2007, 08:14 PM
VSo my question to all of you is:
Which form would you use if you were asked to translate a book from French to English and the intended audience is all over (US, Australia, etc.)?
Would it depend on the editor, the person translating (if they speak American or British English) or would there be different versions for each market?
I would ask the editor what he/she prefered. But really, it is something so easily fixed with search and replace that's it's not that big a deal.

Jamesaritchie
01-10-2007, 10:54 PM
Whenever possible, I handle problems like this according to the rules of the primary country I'm writing for, but in this case, at least, I don't think it's a big deal in any way. The editor will use the in-house style, and that will be that.

Noumea
01-11-2007, 08:29 AM
Thanks for the feedback.

For some reason this is always a big dilemma for the French.
I usually just go with US English since that's what I'm most comfortable with (especially when the style calls for slang words) but I'm always prepared to modify things later on if necessary.

Judg
01-12-2007, 02:57 AM
Thanks for the feedback.

For some reason this is always a big dilemma for the French.
I usually just go with US English since that's what I'm most comfortable with (especially when the style calls for slang words) but I'm always prepared to modify things later on if necessary.That's because they concluded years ago that American and English were two different languages. The first time I saw Traduit de l'américain I could hardly believe my eyes. And that was decades ago... *sigh*

pdr
01-12-2007, 02:37 PM
But, Judg, American is not English. It's a different language!

And the book you are translating, Noumea, is for universal release and not just American, you should be using the English the majority of English speakers speak and not American.

Oh, and James R, if you Americans did chainsaw out all those extra words pray why does
'off of',
'at back of',
'upside of',
and quite a few more similar American combinations exist?
Isn't 'of' unnecessary in those examples?

Jamesaritchie
01-12-2007, 06:10 PM
But, Judg, American is not English. It's a different language!

And the book you are translating, Noumea, is for universal release and not just American, you should be using the English the majority of English speakers speak and not American.

Oh, and James R, if you Americans did chainsaw out all those extra words pray why does
'off of',
'at back of',
'upside of',
and quite a few more similar American combinations exist?
Isn't 'of' unnecessary in those examples?

Honestly, I've never heard any of those expressions. But every country has it's illiterate populace.

Noumea
01-13-2007, 12:42 PM
The English that the majority of English speakers use...
That's an interesting point. Would that be the English used in England, Ireland, Scotland, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Singapore (etc.) or what a lot of Europeans like to call "International English"? ;)

:flag:

I honestly think there isn't much difference between all these "versions" until you start getting into colloquial language. That always makes me a bit uncomfortable which is why I prefer to use US expressions when needed (all of which are often used in other English-speaking countries).


Here's one for you..... Anyone want to take a guess as to what a "cozzie" is? As in "Did you bring your cozzie?" (and no this is not taken from US English)

Bartholomew
01-13-2007, 01:13 PM
'off of',


I hear that one a lot, but not so much the others.

And, actually, I don't hear "Off of" but the far more colloquial "Offa."

"Get it offa me!"

pdr
01-13-2007, 04:04 PM
illiterate, James, but these expressions are being taught to Japanese students as American English in ESL textbooks.


Cozzie? Bathing costume of course. That's good old Standard English!

We all speak standard English, Noumea. You speak American and it is very different from our English.

Sandi LeFaucheur
01-13-2007, 04:59 PM
I honestly think there isn't much difference between all these "versions" until you start getting into colloquial language. That always makes me a bit uncomfortable which is why I prefer to use US expressions when needed (all of which are often used in other English-speaking countries).


Not all US expressions are understood in other countries! For instance, in England, you certainly wouldn't say a woman sat on her fanny.

Is it just me, or is anyone else thinking of pash right now? ;)

Noumea
01-15-2007, 01:50 PM
Like I said, the difference seems to be more in terms of colloquial language/slang (hence the misunderstandings between "fannies", getting "pissed", etc.).

Ungaroo
01-29-2008, 11:58 PM
Wow...that cleared it up.