Which word is it, anyway?
is a common adverb used to mean “in any case,” while any way is an adjective-noun phrase that means “whichever path” or “in any manner.”
is the informal form of anyway. While less common in formal writing, anyways abounds in everyday speech or dialogue. It often signals a transition.
Anyway, used as an adverb, suggests a disregard for factors that stand in the way of an argument or purpose. For example, “I felt tired, but decided to go to the party anyway.” Here, it’s clear that anyway appears in place of regardless or despite what came before.
Another example: It was snowing hard, but we drove to the play anyway.
Any way (two words) has a subtly different meaning.
It means regardless of the path chosen or however possible. For example, if you were to say “I’d be happy to help you in any way I can,” it would mean you were offering to help someone however it was possible to do so. Conversely, “You can go any way you want,” means that a variety of physical paths are available for you to choose from.
Another example: Finish the job any way you choose.
Fun tip: If the words in the can be substituted for any, the two-word any way is most likely what is called for (e.g., Finish the job in the way you choose.)
The most common use of anyways is in colloquial speech or writing or informal dialogue. Anyway can be used in the same manner; anyways is considered more nonstandard.
Anyways is often used to signal a transition to a new topic or to resume discussion of a topic after some tangent or interruption: “Anyways, as I was saying, we leave tomorrow at 10am sharp.”
Sometimes anyways can be sarcastic or dismissive, used to move on from some objectionable but ultimately unimportant remark or matter: “Anyways ….”