"To" vs. "Toward" in the English grammar

To vs. Toward

We use prepositions of movement like 'to' and 'toward' to talk about directions and motions. In this lesson we will learn their uses and differences.

"To" vs. "Toward" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between 'to' and 'toward is that 'to' shows the result of an action while 'toward' does not convey any result.

Expressing Direction

Both 'to' and 'toward' are prepositions of motion and direction used to indicate movement from one place to another or direction. However, there is a fine difference that requires attention.

  • 'To' is used to show movement in a direction from one place to another alongside the result of the action. Have a look:

He walks to school everyday.

Here, we know that the action will lead to the subject attending classes and school programs.

  • 'Toward' is used to indicate movement in a direction from one location to another but we are unaware of the results of the action. For example:

He walks toward school everyday.

Here, we can see that the subject is walking to the whereabouts of the school but we are unaware if he will end up inside the building or not.

Are They Interchangeable?

'To' can always replace 'toward' but 'toward' cannot always replace 'to.' This is because being a preposition of direction is not the only function of 'to.' We use it to identify attachments and relations. 'To' is replaced by 'toward' only when we are expressing movement and direction. Have a look:

He is a close friend to my sister. → He is a close friend toward my sister.

The table is connected to its chairs. → The table is connected toward its chairs.

He was running to the mall. → He was running toward the mall.

Toward or Towards

'Toward' and 'towards' are the same words. 'Toward' is commonly used in formal writings and North Americans while 'towards' is used in the United Kingdom.

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