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All of the time I see people use these two words synonymously. For example:

Why did he move there anyway?


Why did he move there anyways?

I always assumed that there was once just the word anyway that one day had an S added to the end for some reason. Is this assumption correct? What morphological process enables this to happen?

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"Anyways" shows up the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a "dialect" form of "anyway", while in the Oxford Dictionary, it's described as "informal or dialect form of anyway". I don't have a reference for it yet, but I think "anyways" is an American corruption of "anyway". –  Cupcake Jul 4 '11 at 0:55
Oh, and as for the morphological process that allow this to happen (as a high-school English teacher once taught me): "Language changes over time and distance." –  Cupcake Jul 4 '11 at 0:57
I've heard 'anyway' all my life but 'anyways' grates on me, for some reason. Reminds me of when 'for real' became 'for reals'; sounds a little cutsey-trendy to me (not that I expect anyone to stop saying either one on my account). –  user82470 Jun 28 '14 at 17:55
Anyways sounds decidedly "hick from the sticks" to me, but I can't say the same about the other bastard offspring - anyhoo. Where did that one get started, I wonder? I think it's becoming a bit of a hoary old chestnut in Family Guy these days, but I'm sure I knew it donkey's years ago. –  FumbleFingers Jun 28 '14 at 19:20

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I've always thought the addition of the S was just an affectation. Slang usage.

People use laters/laterz online a lot in a similar way. There are other variants seen for anyhow, anyhoo is quite popular, spoken and written.

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I don't have any data for this, but I'd got the impression that "anyways" is a pretty established regional usage in some parts of the US? +1 for anyhoo — a lovely one, common in the UK... –  PLL Feb 1 '11 at 2:57
The NOAD reports anyways as informal or dialectal. –  kiamlaluno Feb 1 '11 at 2:58
@kiamlaluno: Well it is now, yes. My point was that the original addition seems to just be a corruption. –  Orbling Feb 1 '11 at 12:19

The 's' wasn't added; for some uses of the word anyways, it has always had an 's' on it. The OED calls it an adverbial genitive.

The adverbial genitive was a grammatical form in Middle English; to summarize, 's' was sometimes added to the end of a word to show that it was an adverb. We don't do that anymore, but some adverbs have 's' on their ends as a remnant of this, for example towards, forwards, besides, and always. Anyways is one such remnant. The OED has the first citation in 1560:

all those who are any ways afflicted ... in mind, body, or estate

Of course, anyway is not always used as an adverb:

Why did he move there anyways?

For this usage, it historically did not have an 's' on it. However, since the 's' is now meaningless, I suspect that people who add the 's' for the adverbial usage of anyways often also add the 's' when it is used as a conjunction. The OED labels this "dial. or illiterate".

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Anyways is probably a corruption, but seems to me to make just as much sense as the original. In Northern England, people use any road; equally sensible.

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