LawProse Lesson #200: Which is standard: “toward” or “towards”?

LawProse Lesson #200: Which is standard: “toward” or “towards”?

Which is standard: toward or towards?       In American English, toward has been the usual form in print sources since about 1900. Many usage authorities since then have expressed a strong preference for toward, without the final –s. The s-less form of the word is consistent with analogous (though less common) directional words such as cityward, downward, forward, outward, seaward, shoreward, and westward. All these forms are standard in British English as well as American English. But British English makes an exception with towards: since the mid-16th century, the literary convention in Britain has always been to prefer the plus-s form of the word. So your preference should depend on which of the two major varieties of English you’re using. If you’re American, make it toward. To do otherwise is editorially untoward. Further reading: Garner’s Modern American Usage (3d ed. 2009) (under “toward” and “Directional Words.”)

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