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Toward/Towards

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Toward/Towards

Postby Spiff » Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:47 am

Is there a difference, and if so, what is it?
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Postby gailr » Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:38 pm

See Etymonline for a brief discussion. Using this word incorrectly would be untoward. (Perhaps using it very well would be tcward?)
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Postby Apoclima » Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:01 pm

For me, a West Coast US English speaker, toward and towards are in free variation. The s probably isn't a morpheme at all, in fact, because it doesn't carry any meaning. The alternation is not obviously phonologically conditioned, either. For example, there's not a rule like "toward before a vowel, towards before a consonant", although it might be interesting to see if toward is more common in contexts where the end of towards would form a low-frequency consonant cluster with the beginning of the following word.


Bah, all this typing of toward and towards has triggered a word moment. Now they both look wrong.


Toward and Towards

The man came towards me.

The man came toward me.

UN policies move towards global socialsim.

UN policies move toward global socialism.

I can't see (or hear) a discernible difference in meaning!

Apo
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Postby tcward » Thu Apr 07, 2005 3:08 am

From memory, but with the caveat that after reading Apo's post, they all sound as right or wrong as each other, what I recall is that, strictly speaking, towards indicates physical motion, whereas toward indicates metaphorical motion.

Slowly but surely, we came toward the realization that we had been lied to by the administration.

He crept with a slow, steady pace towards the sound of the thumping noise in the basement.

I think, in practice, it still sounds more incorrect to use the -s with the metaphorical sense. Either word, in practice, sounds fine when indicating/describing physical motion.

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Postby Spiff » Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:27 am

Thank you, everyone (and especially everyone who replied :) )
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Postby M. Henri Day » Fri Apr 15, 2005 11:56 am

Spiff, Tim, et al, here's what the AHD has to say on the matter :

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.


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曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby Apoclima » Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:26 pm

I know that I use both forms, but I am at a loss to understand the pattern. What I need is a secret recording of myself, using "toward" and "towards" entirely unprovocated, and then I could use some sort of search engine to find every use of these words and perhaps detect a pattern or not!

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