Onward Vs Onwards

Onward vs Onwards: Which One is Correct?

English language has a lot of confusing words and their usage can create ambiguities. Some of these words are known as homophones, which sound the same but have different meanings. Onward and onwards are two such words that are often mixed up.

The confusion over using these words arises when we think about the correct form to use, onward or onwards. The truth is that both words are correct but it really depends on the context in which they are used. Let’s explore the differences between onward and onwards and when to use each one.

Onward: Definition and Usage

Onward is an adverb which means in a forward direction, towards a further destination. It is used to describe movement in a linear direction. For example, “We must go onward if we want to reach the top of the mountain”. Onward can also be used figuratively to denote progress or advancement. For instance, “We must continue onward in our efforts to improve our society.”

It is worth mentioning that “onward” is used more commonly in American English, whereas “onwards” is the preferred form in British English. This means if you’re in North America, it’s probably best to use “onward”.

Onwards: Definition and Usage

Onwards is also an adverb, but it has a slightly different usage compared to “onward”. While “onward” describes movement in a linear direction, “onwards” means onward and towards a point in time or event. For example, “The company will move onwards to a new stage of its development after the merger.”

Onwards can also be used to indicate continuation of an action. For example, “She’ll continue to work onwards until the job is finished.”

Comparison between onward and onwards

Although both words are interchangeable, there are certain differences between their usage patterns.

One of the important aspects to consider is the context in which they are used. As mentioned earlier, “onward” is used more commonly in American English whereas “onwards” is used in British English. This means that in formal writing it’s best to use the form that suits the context to avoid any confusion.

Another difference is that “onward” is used more frequently in the context of movement and direction whereas “onwards” is used in the context of time and duration.

For instance, if you want to say “The train is making progress towards its destination,” you would use onward. Similarly, if you want to say “The festival will continue for three more days,” you would use onwards.


1. Is there any difference between onward and onwards?

Both words are correct and can be used interchangeably, although onward is more common in American English and onwards is preferred in British English.

2. Can I use onward and onwards in the same sentence?

Yes, it is possible to use both words in the same sentence if the context allows for it. For example, “The company will move onwards to a new stage of its development and must continue onward in its efforts to improve.”

3. Can I use onward as a noun?

Yes, onward can be used as a noun in phrases such as “From that day onward, he never looked back.”

4. Can I use onwards instead of “from now on”?

Yes, onwards can be used to replace “from now on” in certain contexts. For example, “From now onwards, we must work harder to achieve our goals.”

In conclusion, the choice of using onwards or onward depends on the context in which they are used. A good rule of thumb is to use “onward” for direction and movement and “onwards” for time and duration. As long as the meaning is clear, either form can be used interchangeably, and the choice of which to use depends on the preferred usage in the English language of the region you are in.