You may have noticed that some people use the word anyway whereas other people add an “-s” to create the word anyways. So you may be feeling a bit confused. What’s the difference between anyway vs. anyways? Is there even a difference?
We’re about to tell you.
Anyway vs. anyways are different forms of the same word
Unlike other pairs of words that look similar (compose vs. comprise and loathe vs. loath) anyway vs. anyways mean the same thing. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can always use them interchangeably. Here’s why:
If you look up the word anyway in a dictionary, you’ll find that it’s an adverb that can mean a few different things. Typically, we use anyway when we want to get back to the main point of a conversation or when we want to say that something will happen in spite of something else. This is how you would use it in a sentence:
- “Anyway, I have to get going.”
- “She hates chocolate, but she ate it anyway.”
- “It was raining, but Massimo went for a run anyway.”
As long as you’re using it in a way that matches one of its definitions, it’s appropriate to use anyway in virtually any kind of writing.
Because anyways means the same thing as anyway, you could replace it for anyway in the sentences above:
- “Anyways, I have to get going.”
- “She hates chocolate, but she ate it anyways.”
- “It was raining, but Massimo went for a run anyways.”
But if you look anyways up, you’ll find that dictionaries don’t recognize it as a formal word, at least not anymore. Anyways used to be the correct way to spell anyway (a long time ago). But it no longer is. That’s why modern dictionaries identify anyways as an informal or dialect word.
So although it may be okay to use it in casual conversations or emails, some grammar sticklers may think you don’t know how to write if you use anyways in formal documents and emails. (And sometimes it just isn’t worth it to pick a fight with a grammar stickler.)
How common are anyway vs. anyways?
Just because anyways isn’t a formal word doesn’t mean people don’t use it. After all, anyways isn’t wrong in the same way that words like irregardless and conversate are wrong. And in fact, people have been using anyways since the 1200s.
But if you look at how frequently anyway vs. anyways are used in edited text, you’ll find that people use anyway much more than they use anyways. So even though lots of people use anyway vs. anyways interchangeably, editors have a clear preference for anyway.
Anyway vs. anyways mean the same thing. And in casual conversations and writing, you can use them in the same way.
But whereas anyway is recognized as a formal word, anyways isn’t. So if you want to play it safe when writing formal emails, proposals, and reports, stick with anyway.
Would you use forward or foreword in this sentence: “They raced to the _____ section of the deck.” Find the answer in our blog post on the difference between these two words.