Foreword and Forward

Commonly Confused Words

The words foreword and forward sound similar, but their meanings are different.

Definitions

The noun foreword refers to a short introductory note in a published work. (Also see preface.) A foreword may be composed by someone other than the author.

Forward is an adjective and an adverb with several meanings related to direction (ahead, onward, toward the front)--as in the expressions "forward thinking" and "march forward." Forwards is an alternate spelling of forward.

Examples

  • President Barack Obama wrote the foreword to Conversations With Myself, a book by Nelson Mandela.
  • "Uncle Willie . . . was standing erect behind the counter, not leaning forward or resting on the small shelf that had been built for him."
    (Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969)
  • "On the Earth, forward motion is usually achieved by pushing on some medium, such as the ground for a car and the sea for a motorboat. We walk forwards by pushing back against the floor with our feet."
    (Lucy Rogers, It's ONLY Rocket Science, 2008)
  • "The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering--a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons--a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting--three hundred million people all with the same face."
    (George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949)
     

    Usage Notes

    • "Although some style books prefer 'forward' and toward' to 'forwards' and 'towards,' none of these forms is really incorrect, though the forms without the final 's' are perhaps a smidgen more formal."
      (Paul Brians, Common Errors in English Usage. William, James, 2003)
    • "A foreword should be written by the author, at the time of publication, explaining perhaps why the piece was written, anticipating difficulties, alerting the reader to its special qualities, removing current misconceptions, apologizing in advance for defects it may be perceived--vengefully--to possess."
      (William H. Gass, "The Book of Prefaces." A Temple of Texts. Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)


      Practice

      (a) "I look _____ to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft."
      (President John F. Kennedy, "The Purpose of Poetry," 1963)

      (b) Wynton Marsalis wrote the ____ to the DVD Jazz Icons: Louis Armstrong Live in '59.

      (c) "When Lanie Greenberger entered the courtroom, not exactly walking but undulating _____ on the balls of her feet, in a little half-time prance, no one bothered to look up."
      (Joan Didion, After Henry, 1992)

      Answers 

       

      (a) "I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft."
      (President John F. Kennedy, "The Purpose of Poetry," 1963)

      (b) Wynton Marsalis wrote the foreword to the DVD Jazz Icons: Louis Armstrong Live in '59.

      (c) "When Lanie Greenberger entered the courtroom, not exactly walking but undulating forward on the balls of her feet, in a little half-time prance, no one bothered to look up."
      (Joan Didion, After Henry, 1992)
       

      Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

      200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs

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      Your Citation
      Nordquist, Richard. "Foreword and Forward." ThoughtCo, Apr. 12, 2017, thoughtco.com/foreword-and-forward-1689561. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, April 12). Foreword and Forward. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/foreword-and-forward-1689561 Nordquist, Richard. "Foreword and Forward." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/foreword-and-forward-1689561 (accessed May 22, 2018).