WordReference Collins English Usage © 2020
-ward - -wards
‘-wards’ in adverbs
-wards is a suffix that forms adverbs showing direction. For example, if you move or look backwards, you move or look in the direction your back is facing. If you move or look northwards, you move or look towards the north.
Ryan walked forwards a couple of steps.
I looked out the window and could see eastwards as far as the distant horizon.
She stretched upwards to the cupboard above the sink.
Here are some common adverbs ending in -wards:
However, you can be creative and add -wards to other nouns in order to show direction. For example, if you look skywards, you look in the direction of the sky. If you move seawards, you move in the direction of the sea.
‘-ward’ in adverbs
In American English, and sometimes in British English, -ward is used instead of ‘-wards’ to form adverbs of direction. For example, instead of saying ‘He looked upwards’, American speakers usually say ‘He looked upward’.
I began to climb upward over the steepest ground.
They marched westward.
‘-ward’ in adjectives
In both British and American English, -ward is used to form adjectives showing direction. For example, you say ‘a backward glance’ and ‘a homeward journey’. These adjectives are usually used in front of nouns.
There were plans for the eastward expansion of London.
His announcement was followed by silence and downward glances.
She arrived in London and started preparing for her onward journey to Paris.
Be careful
Both afterwards and afterward are always adverbs, not adjectives. Afterward is more common in American English.
They got married not long afterwards.
I left soon afterward.
Be careful
Both towards and toward are always prepositions, not adjectives or adverbs.
He saw his mother running towards him.
She glanced toward the door.
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'southwards' also found in these entries:

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