Common Errors in English Usage: Toward, Towards

Once again, from the pages of Paul Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage, here is a worksheet on toward and towards and their proper use in prose.

As Professor Brians’ passage explains, the distinction between these words is a matter of American and British English. Americans tend to use toward, whereas the British prefer towards. In any case, as you would expect, the words are interchangeable. The worksheet contains five prepositional phrases using toward, and calls upon students to build sentences around the phrases. As always, however, this is an open document that you can manipulate to your class’s needs.

Incidentally, Merriam-Webster lists toward as both an adjective and a preposition. If you look up the adjective (meaning “coming soon,” “imminent,” “happening at the moment,” and “afoot” and with an obsolete meaning of    “quick to learn”), I think you’ll agree that teaching it as a preposition (“in the direction of,” etc.) is the best course of action for helping students understand its meaning and proper use.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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