Afterward - afterwards

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Writers sometimes ask "what is the difference between the two forms of the adverb afterward and afterwards (with the '-s')?" On-line Fowler says "Afterward is restricted to North America ... whereas afterwards is the customary form in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and is an optional by-form in North America." So AWE advises the use of afterwards in British academic writing.

  • There is an adjective which was in use in nautical language, but is now replaced by aftwards, and more commonly by the simpler aft. All mean 'towards the stern of the vessel', and more loosely 'behind', or 'after'.
    • There was also a preposition, always afterward, in Old English, now wholly obsolete; and a conjunction ('afterward [that]') that survived into Middle English - but is also now wholly obsolete.
    • A rare and almost obsolete noun exists (in either form) to mean 'the after-effects, the later results of', and in Christian contexts 'the afterlife'.
Don't confuse (or mistype) afterward for afterword