Ask a Coach
By Allison Millward, WRMC
Q: I’m confused about usage: which version of this preposition is correct, towards or toward?
– Pondering Prepositions in Chantilly, VA
A: This is a good question about prepositions, usage, and–of course–style! The direct answer is this: check your style guide. Some style guides contend there is a distinct difference between the two words and some do not have a preference. Because we use APA style here at FXUA, we will use the rules provided by the APA Publications Manual, 6th Edition (2010), which tells us to use the first spelling of the word in the dictionary, preferably Merriam and Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2005):
“If the dictonary gives a choice, use the first spelling listed; for example, use aging and canceled rather than ageing and cancelled” (p. 96).
With this rule in mind, we will always use toward without an s.
Examples: She is working toward her degree in Spanish.
He ran toward the light.
Do you have a question about writing? Visit our website and complete the “Ask a Coach” form. All submissions are confidential unless submitters allow us to use their questions on our blog.