/ (ˈɒnwədz) /
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at or towards a point or position ahead, in advance, etc
Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012


What does onwards mean?

Onwards means about the same thing as forward—toward a point ahead or in the future.

It is interchangeable with onward when onward is used as an adverb.

Onwards can be used in the context of travel through physical space or through time, but it is perhaps most commonly used when discussing progress toward a goal.

Onwards typically comes after the verb, as in We traveled onwards. 

It can be used to refer to all the time after a certain point, as in These records are from 1950 onwards. 

It can also be used as a kind of command or word of encouragement meaning something like move on, as in Onwards, scouts! We need to reach camp before nightfall.

Onwards appears in the phrase onwards and upwards, which is usually used in the context of progress or success.

Example: If we don’t keep moving onwards and innovating, we’ll never be able to compete in this market.

Where does onwards come from?

The first records of the word onward in its modern sense come from around the 1300s, and onwards is first recorded later. The suffix -wards is a variant of -ward, which indicates a direction based on the first part of the word. These suffixes are used in several other common words that indicate direction of movement through space or time, many of which can end in either suffix, such as toward/towards, backward/backwards, and afterward/afterwards. When words end in –wards, they’re often adverbs.

Sometimes, onwards can be used in the same way as ontravel onwards, travel on, move onwards, move on, go onwards, and go on can all mean just about the same thing. Still, -wards helps to emphasize direction and movement. In the case of onwards, this movement is usually toward a goal or completion of a task. When used in the context of travel toward a destination, it can sound a bit formal or poetic. But such expressions can be used metaphorically—to journey onwards can literally mean to continue traveling or it can mean to keep making progress toward a goal.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to onwards?

What are some synonyms for onwards?

What are some words that share a root or word element with onwards

What are some words that often get used in discussing onwards?


How is onwards used in real life?

Onwards is used less commonly than similar words like forward or ahead. It’s often associated with progress and success, especially when it’s used in the common expression onwards and upwards.



Try using onwards!

True or False? 

When onward is used as an adverb, it can be used interchangeably with onwards.

How to use onwards in a sentence