Anyway and anyways: before you use them next time

Anyway and anyways have always been a pair of words contending with each other across the world and commonly used interchangeably, especially in my part of the world (Africa: Nigeria). We all learn language through various channels of communication and a vital means is listening to others. Research shows that consequently, most speakers of English who use anyways heard others say it and assume it is acceptable.

Which of them is correct? Good question!

Anyway

Anyway is an adverb, meaning ‘in spite of’, ‘nonetheless’ or generally used to emphasise a point that limits or expands the effect of the preceding or succeeding information, i.e. it regulates the meaning of an expression.

Examples:

  1. We can give them the money, it’s not ours anyway.
  2. Anyway, forget the past and move forward.
  3. Who are you, anyway?
  4. The government has decided to grant political amnesty to the leader of the group, but we have our reservations because it is not the best option. Anyway, they won’t ask us before they do it.

Anyways

Anyways is an informal, colloquial and nonstandard form of anyway. This means you should avoid it in formal speech and writing. Better still, I’d have said you should avoid it completely so as not to ‘mistakenly’ use it, but I can’t enforce that.

Note: better still is a correct expression meaning a particular option would be better, contrary to what some non-native speakers have been taught.

Besides, you can’t pluralise an adverb, so adding ‘s’ to anyway is not grammatical. This is completely different from any ways meaning ‘in any manner’.

Moreover, anyway is generally more popular than anyways, so the levels of acceptability are different and the margin is wide.

Now that you know what anyway and anyways are, I’m sure you’d definitely make a conscious choice next time you use them.

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