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Toward or Towards?

The Quick Answer
Should I write toward or towards?

The prepositions toward and towards are interchangeable. (There is a tendency to use toward in the US and Canada, and a slight preference for towards in the UK and Australia.)

Toward or Towards?

The prepositions toward and towards are interchangeable.

Toward in the US and Canada. Towards in the UK and Australia

There is a tendency to use toward in the US and Canada, and a slight preference for towards in the UK and Australia.

Also of note, the use of towards is far more common than toward in literature (evidence), but toward has been gaining ground on towards since the 1990s.
Top Tip

Choose whichever one you like, but be consistent.

Remember, toward and towards are interchangeable, regardless of where you live. You are safe to use whichever one you think sounds best. The only rule is to be consistent. For example, if you opt for toward, then stick with it throughout your document.

Examples of Toward and Towards

The examples below show the preferences for toward and towards according to region:
  • The first step towards knowledge is to know that we are ignorant. (English clergyman Richard Cecil, 1748-1810) ()
  • (There is a preference for towards in UK and Australia.)

  • The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. (Canadian–American psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden,1930-2014) ()
  • (There is a tendency for toward in the US and Canada.)

The Difference between To and Towards

The words toward and towards primarily mean in the direction of. They contrast with to, which implies an intent to reach the place named. For example:
  • I am heading to the shops.
  • (With to, your reader will infer that the shops are your final destination.)

  • I am heading towards the shops.
  • (With toward(s), your reader will only infer that you're heading in the direction of the shops.)

  • Are you going to Birmingham, John? I am heading towards Birmingham, so I can give you a lift as far as Rugby.
  • (In this example, to Birmingham tells us that Birmingham is John's final destination. The towards Birmingham does not carry the same connotation.)
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