‘Toward’ vs. ‘Towards’: What’s the Difference?

By Kelsey Weeks, updated on August 2, 2023

Are you moving ‘toward’ or ‘towards’ progress? What is the difference between ‘toward’ vs. ‘towards?’ Overall, either can be used.

To glance at each:

  • ‘Toward’ and ‘towards’ both mean in the direction of something or somewhere.
  • ‘Toward’ is the version more widely accepted in the United States and Canada.
  • ‘Towards’ is the version more commonly used in other English-speaking countries.

‘Toward’ and ‘towards’ are both accepted versions of the word, depending on where one is located. Some people decide that either or is an okay use, and it is really up to the preference of the reader. When writing in formal settings, it is best to follow the general practice of the country, and you can read more to learn the specifics.

What is the Difference Between ‘Toward’ and ‘Towards?’

The words ‘toward’ and ‘towards’ come from the same root, Old English coming from ‘toweard,’ which meant in the direction of. People would also add an ‘s’ to that word sometimes.

  • ‘Toward’ is more commonly accepted in the United States. This is due to the Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook noting it. When doing formal writing in the United States and Canada, it is encouraged to use this version not to be considered wrong by some.
  • ‘Towards’ is accepted in the United Kingdom, Australia, and other English-speaking countries. It can also be accepted informally in the United States, which then leaves it up to the preference of the writer.

Definition of ‘Toward' and ‘Towards’: What Do They Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘toward’ can be a preposition or adjective.

As a preposition, it means:

  • In the direction of.
  • Along a course leading to.
    • In relation to.
  • At a point in the direction of or near.
    • In such a position as to be in the direction of.
  • Not long before.
  • In the way of help or assistance.
    • For the partial payment of.

As an adjective, it means:

  • Or, less commonly, towards
    • Coming soon or imminent.
    • Happening at the moment or afoot.
  • Now obsolete: quick to learn or apt.
    • Propitious or favoring.

Synonyms of ‘Toward’ and ‘Towards’

  • Regarding
  • On
  • Concerning
  • About
  • Of
  • With respect to
  • With regard to
  • Advantageous
  • Beneficial
  • Favorable
  • Approaching
  • Coming
  • To
  • In the direction of

Antonyms of ‘Toward’ and ‘Towards’

  • Away
  • From

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Toward’ and ‘Towards’

Pronunciation of English words is easier to learn with phonetic spelling. In the case of ‘toward’ and ‘towards,’ the only difference in both speaking and writing is the ‘s.’

  • The phonetic spelling of 'toward’ is:

                Tuh Wawd

  • The phonetic spelling of 'towards’ is:

                Tuh Wordz

When to use ‘Toward’ vs. ‘Towards’

Here are examples of when to use ‘toward’ and ‘towards.’

  • Use ‘toward’ when needing a preposition to describe heading in the direction of something.

In this example, you can explain:

The bus was moving ‘toward’ the bus depot when it broke down.

  • Use ‘toward’ in a discussion of movement.

For example, one can say:

We are moving ‘toward’ progress by preparing for this situation now.

  • You can use ‘towards’ when stating something is coming in your direction.

As an example, someone may inform everyone around:

The ice cream truck is coming ‘towards’ us now, so it is time to get out the money and be ready for it to drive by. 

  • You can also use ‘towards’ in a casual conversation about directions.

You may tell someone:

I am moving ‘towards’ the grocery store on the corner, so it will be easier to bike to the store.

Sample Sentences Using 'Toward'

Review these sample sentences to learn to use ‘toward when speaking and writing. Remember that this is the formal version of the two in the United States and Canada.

  • The organization envisions moving ‘toward’ a green initiative and has been hiring consultants to help review how to make this possible.
  • Her route included driving ‘toward’ the town from the West and then leaving from the South. She has learned how to be most efficient on this route.
  • They stated that the presentation would be ‘toward’ the later part of the morning because they want everyone to feel settled in before they must leave their personal projects.
  • Everything fundraised today will be going ‘toward’ the battered women’s shelter in town.
  • The elephant has moved ‘toward’ the shower area, so it must want some water play time or to be sprayed down.

Sample Sentences Using 'Towards'

Review these sample sentences to learn how to use ‘towards’ when writing or talking in an informal setting in the United States or Canada or a formal setting in other English-speaking countries.

  • The comment was hurled ‘towards’ those in the crowd that were not listening to the speaker. The speaker was trying to reactivate their attention.
  • I think that moving ‘towards’ growing the company will require us to look at social media more seriously because some products are not as good as ours, but they are selling more than us.
  • She texted her friend, “You can find me ‘towards’ the back of the theater so we can see the whole show.”
  • When looking at the calendar, the family decided to take their vacationtowards’ the end of the year. This allowed everyone to plan accordingly.

Closing Words on ‘Toward’ vs. ‘Towards’

A review on ‘toward’ or ‘towards:

  • ‘Toward’ and ‘towards’ have the same meaning, with the only difference being the ‘s.’
  • ‘Toward is more commonly accepted in professional settings in the United States.
  • Informally, people can choose their preference between the two.
  • ‘Towards’ is preferred in the United Kingdom and Australia.

‘Toward’ and ‘towards’ are just like a lot of words that differ between the two larger English-speaking populations. More and more people are starting to accept both versions, but knowing the difference between the two is still important in formal settings. This can change in the future, but some people like things to stay the same. As with most examples, ‘toward’ the shorter version is what is used in the United States, and ‘towards,’ the longer version is used in the United Kingdom.

All posts on our website explain how to use tricky words correctly. Check back frequently to reduce the errors in your writing. You can find additional resources on English words in the confusing words section.

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Written By:
Kelsey Weeks
Kelsey Weeks is currently a school counselor at a high school and a previous English teacher. She loves helping others with literacy, learning more, and exploring nature. She has an undergrad in English with an emphasis on secondary education and an M.A. in Applied Psychology from NYU.

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