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I've heard both "cater to" and "cater towards" used, but I was wondering which one was correct. For example:

  • The event's theme seemed to cater to the artistic crowd.
  • The event's theme seemed to cater towards the artistic crowd.

Are there rules for this? Which is correct?

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They're both wrong. It should be "The event's theme seemed to cater to the artistic crowd." You can't say something "is catered to" something else, it can only "cater to" something. – FumbleFingers Jul 16 '12 at 13:37
Okay - edited. I'm after the to/towards answer. – Joshc1107 Jul 16 '12 at 13:39
See the NGram link in my comment to Marcus's (incorrect) answer - it's always cater to (or cater for), never toward/towards. – FumbleFingers Jul 16 '12 at 16:22
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You want cater to here. I don't think you cater toward something.

You could say something like,"The event's theme seemed geared toward the artistic crowd." (In this case, gear would have the meaning "to adjust or adapt so as to make suitable.")

(Definitions from The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition)

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This is pure opinion but I'd read "cater to" as meaning "intentionally designed for the artistic crowd" and "catered toward" as meaning "designed in a way that the artistic crowd would tend to appreciate, but not specifically designed for the artistic crowd"

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No such distinction can be made with cater. Per this NGram, neither toward nor towards occur after cater often enough to even be counted (they'd be "marked" usages if they ever did turn up). – FumbleFingers Jul 16 '12 at 16:20

I don't recall ever seeing "cater towards", and its line on Google ngrams is indistinguishable from zero to my eye. (There are some occurrences, but very few.)

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