Difference Between Afterward and Afterwards (With Table)

Afterward and Afterwards are homophones. Homophones are referred to a set of words that sound similar but carry different meanings. Both afterward and afterwards are used as synonyms for the word later.

An adverb is a part of the speech of English grammar. An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adverb, or another adverb. They answer questions like how, when, where, how long, and how often. Afterward and afterwards are both considered adverbs of time.

Afterward vs Afterwards

The main difference between Afterward and Afterwards is that afterward is more used in American English. On the other hand, the usage of afterwards is more pronounced in British English. Apart from these, there is not much concrete difference between the terms and they can often be found to be used interchangeably.

Afterward is more used by speakers in the United States of America and Canada. It generally means, ‘at a later future period” implying that it is used in association with time. It is an adverb and serves as a synonym for after or later. Occasionally, it can also be used as an adjective. The usage of the word afterward signifies a more formal tone better suited to official communications.

As opposed to afterward, afterwards is more predominantly used in British English. However, it carries the almost same meaning as afterward and it is also used with time. When afterward ends with an ‘s’, it is generally used as an adverb. The word is generally used in informal conversations.

Comparison Table Between Afterward and Afterwards

Points of Difference AfterwardAfterwards
Geographical usage location The geographical usage location of the word is in North America.The geographical usage location of the word is in the UK.
SuffixThe suffix afterward is ‘ward’.The suffix of afterwards is ‘wards’.
Parts of speechAfterward can be used both as an adverb of time and an adjective.Afterwards can only be used as an adverb of time.
Conversational tone Afterward is used in situations where the conversation is formal.Afterwards is used in situations where the conversation is informal.
Other uses of the suffix Some other uses of the suffix, ‘ward’ is upward, downward, and seaward.Some other uses of the suffix, ‘wards’ is upwards, downwards, and seawards.

What is Afterward?

Afterward is an English word and it refers to a future point of time. The word is prevalent in the United States of America and Canada. However, this is not any hard and fast rule and its speakers may be found in other parts of the world also. The word, ‘afterward’ finds use as a synonym for words like after or later.

As a part of speech, afterward is predominantly used as an adverb. To state it specifically afterward is used as an adverb of time. In addition to being an adverb of time, afterward can also be used as conjunction at certain times.

Afterward is generally used in cases where the communication carries a formal or official tone. The word is considered classy and appropriate for the purpose. The suffix of the word is, ‘ward’. Certain other words which carry the same suffix are ‘seaward’, ‘backward’, and ‘downward’.

What is Afterwards?

Similar to afterward, afterwards is also a word in the English dictionary that means an event in the future. It is in common use in the United Kingdom and many other English-speaking places. It is an adverb of directionality after time. Afterwards is spelled similarly as afterward but has an ‘s’ added to its tail.

In terms of parts of speech, afterwards is considered as an adverb of time. Unlike afterward, this word is not used as an adjective. Example – The children said that they will do their homework afterwards.

The suffix of afterward differs from that of afterwards. The latter word carries the suffix ‘wards’. Other words in the English language which carry the same suffix are ‘seawards’, ‘upwards’, and ‘forwards’. The word ‘afterwards’ is generally used in events of informal conversation.

Main Differences Between Afterward and Afterwards

  1. The major and most important point of distinction between the words afterward and afterwards is based on the geographical area of their usage. Afterward is much used in the North American continent. On the other hand, Afterwards is used in British English. However, this is not a hard and fast rule.
  2. Another difference between the words is based on their respective suffixes. While afterward has ‘ward’ as its suffix, afterwards has ‘wards’ in its ending. One extra letter ‘s’ creates an altogether new word in the English dictionary.
  3. The words can be differentiated again based on the part of speech that they can be used in. While the word, ‘afterward’ can be used as both an adverb of time and an adjective, the other word, ‘afterwards’ can be used only as an adverb.
  4. The type of communication that is going on determines the usage of either of the words. If the communication has a formal tone, afterward is used. However, if the communication is informal, the use of afterwards is preferred.
  5. The other uses of the suffix, ‘ward’ can be seen in seaward, upward, and downward. Similarly, the other uses of the suffix, ‘wards’ can be seen in words like rewards, upwards, and downwards.

Conclusion

Afterward and Afterwards are two words with nearly the same spelling and meaning. Such pairs of words are called homophones. There is also another homophone in the set with quite the same wording but with a stark difference in meaning. It is Afterword and it refers to a portion of the book, usually at its end. It is the concluding part of the book and is generally written by someone other than the writer of the book.

While afterward is used both as an adverb and adjective, afterwards can only be used as an adverb. Moreover, while the former is better suited for use in formal conversations, the latter finds great use in informal conversations.

References

  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110901405/pdf#page=365
  2. http://ir-library.mmarau.ac.ke:8080/handle/123456789/4633