Hello,
I'm looking for an English usage website: the sort that will tell me the difference between, for example, backward and backwards.

Any recommendations?
Thank you very much,
Ted Shoemaker
1 2 3 4 5 6
(Email Removed) (Ted Shoemaker) wrote on 01 Jan 2004:
Hello, I'm looking for an English usage website: the sort that will tell me the difference between, for example, backward and backwards. Any recommendations?

You found it.
Have you tried the dictionary, by the way? I think it will answer your question better than we can. If you don't understand what the dictionary says, then come back and ask again.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
Hello, I'm looking for an English usage website: the sort that will tell me the difference between, for example, backward and backwards. Any recommendations?

You found it.

No. The Usenet newsgroups alt.english.usage and alt.usage.english are no more Web sites than they are computer bulletin boards.
Have you tried the dictionary, by the way? I think it will answer your question better than we can. If you don't understand what the dictionary says, then come back and ask again. Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.

I know of three online American dictionaries which have usage notes which go into some detail: The online Merriam-Webster dictionary at

www.m-w.com ,
*The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,* 4th ed. at

http://www.bartleby.com/61 / ,
and the *Encarta World English Dictionary,* North American Edition at

www.dictionary.msn.com .
The following, for example, comes from the AHD4 entry for "backward" at http://www.bartleby.com/61/68/B0016800.html
"USAGE NOTE: The adverb may be spelled backward or backwards, and these forms are interchangeable: stepped backward; a mirror facing backwards. In Standard English, however, the adjective has no -s: a backward view. "

See also the note at the Encarta entry for "backward" at http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary 1861588323/backward adv 1.html

Merriam-Webster doesn't have a usage note in this case: It just presents "backwards" as an equal variant for the adverb sense of "backward."

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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"Raymond S. Wise" (Email Removed) wrote on 01 Jan 2004:
No. The Usenet newsgroups alt.english.usage and alt.usage.english are no more Web sites than they are computer bulletin boards.

You're right, Raymond. I'm just so used used to people who post here using whatever word they want to express whatever it doesn't mean that I respond automatically now. If you access Google groups via a GUI newsreader, it sure does look like a Website, though.
Have you tried the dictionary, by the way? I think ... what the dictionary says, then come back and ask again.

(Dictionary entries snipt)
Whilst (BrE equivalent of "While" and equally acceptable alternative, unless, of course, one is not a native speaker of BrE, in which case it is a bit pretentious) I always enjoy reading such stuff, myself, I no longer see the need to be a provider of dictionary information for the lazy.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
On 31 Dec 2003 17:10:57 GMT, CyberCypher
Hello, I'm looking for an English usage website: the sort that will tell me the difference between, for example, backward and backwards. Any recommendations?

You found it. Have you tried the dictionary, by the way? I think it will answer your question better than we can. If you don't understand what the dictionary says, then come back and ask again.

I looked at the dictionary for those two, and it said 'backwards' is only used as an adverb- the adjective is always 'backward'. I find that I sometimes use the form with the 's' sometimes as an adjective. For example, I would say ' he has it backwards', and that feels like an adjective use to me, not adverb.

john
I'm looking for an English usage website: the sort that will tell me the difference between, for example, backward and backwards.

You might start with the AUE page at
.
It has links to many FAQs and related sites, and a search facility.

Odysseus
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John O'Flaherty (Email Removed) wrote on 01 Jan 2004:
I looked at the dictionary for those two, and it said 'backwards' is only used as an adverb- the adjective ... example, I would say ' he has it backwards', and that feels like an adjective use to me, not adverb.

MW3NID says that, but the OED says that "backwards" is also an adjective, albeit obsolete and rare. I think this is one of those cases where the difference between the two forms is too fine for the normal native speaker (me included) to keep in mind. The same goes for "forward/forwards".
I was under the impression that adding the /-s/ was particular to BrE, especially in "toward(s)", another one of those words, but that is not what the OED or W3NID say.
I don't really know what the usage statistics might be, but I almost always use these words without the final /-s/ and accept the alternative spelling as a correct variant.
(quote)(Raymond's post wisely contained this quote, but I unthinkingly snipt it)
The American HeritageĀ® Book of English Usage.
A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English. 1996.
3. Word Choice: New Uses, Common Confusion, and Constraints

Ā§ 40. backward / backwards
You can spell the adverb backward or backwards. The forms are interchangeable: stepped backward, a mirror facing backwards. But in Standard English the adjective has no -s: a backward view. 1 (/quote)
I think I probably write and say "He walked {backwards/forward}" without giving it a second thought. I don't know why I don't use "forwards" in such sentences. "backward" sounds too much like an adjective to me to use it here, but "forward" sounds like both adjective and adverb.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
Whilst (BrE equivalent of "While" and equally acceptable alternative, unless, of course, one is not a native speaker of BrE, in which case it is a bit pretentious)

Actually, I perceive it not as pretentious, but in current use, at any rate as a rather low-status alternative, and almost always edit to "while". I may be wrong, though.
Mike.
mike lyle (Email Removed) (Mike Lyle) wrote on 01 Jan 2004:
Whilst (BrE equivalent of "While" and equally acceptable alternative, unless, ... BrE, in which case it is a bit pretentious)

Actually, I perceive it not as pretentious, but in current use, at any rate as a rather low-status alternative, and almost always edit to "while". I may be wrong, though.

But you are a native speaker of BrE and I a native speaker of AmE, so I'd expect us to having differing and equally valid opinions about its use by, say, a native speaker of AmE. I am not well enough informed about the social value of "whilst" to make any judgment about it status. I know that a few posters here, in AEU, and maybe in sci.lang (I don't know much about that NG) regularly use "whilst".

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
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