Which is most proper? "Toward" or "Towards"


I always get confused using "toward" and "towards"...I read somewhere one is used more in British language than American...(I'm American).  For years I've basically settled on connecting "toward" to plural objects, and "towards" to singular objects, and I've been told even that is okay.  What is most correct?

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Shawn gives his answer from a British English perspective, although he gets to the American English answer at the end. For British English, Swan's Practical English Usage is a worthy successor to Fowler's great works.  For American English, Garner's Modern American Usage (3rd edition, 2009, Oxford University Press) is the current authority on proper usage. Modeled directly after the British Fowler's, Garner's addresses directional terms ending in -ward beginning on page 259.


"In AmE, the preferred practice is to use the -ward form of directional words, as in toward, forward, and westward. Words ending in -ward may either be adjecties or adverbs, whereas words ending in -wards, common in BrE, may be adverbs only. These are typical preferred AmE forms: cityward, coastward, downward, outward, rearward, shoreward, sideward, skyward, sunward, toward, upward.


"An exception in AmE is the adverb backwards, which is used frequently (though still less often than backward). (It's anomalous that many people who say forward also say backwards). When backward and forward combine in a phrase (either word coming first), be consistent about using the -s; by far, the most common AmE usage is to leave it off both words. As an adjective, only backward is accepted <a backward move>."


None of my references -- either American or British -- speak of -ward relating to single or plural objects.


I hope this helps.

link edited Nov 25 '12 at 15:23 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

I can't find anything in any of my references about objects either.

TolleyNov 25 '12 at 16:50

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