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Posts Tagged ‘H W Fowler’

A reader writes:

“Do you have an entry about whether one should use “toward” or “towards,” “backward” or “backwards,” etc. I’m always confused when it comes to those words.”

So, we will address this now.

Quoting Fowler: “toward, towards, towardly. The adjectives … are in all senses are obsolescent, or at any rate archaic, but untoward is still current. Of the prepositions the ~s form (towards) is the prevailing one, and the other tends to become literary on the one hand and provincial on the other.”

Toward that end, we will head towards the use of “Back words”

Again, quoting Fowler: “backward(s). As an adverb either form may be used; as an adjective backward only.”

In conclusion, we must admit some possible backward thinking in this area, as Grammar Police shall not ticket for going backwards or backward in direction.

Source: Fowler, H.W.. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965, pp 47, 644

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