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

Why did he move there anyway?

Versus:

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". Commented Jul 4, 2011 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." Commented Jul 4, 2011 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
    Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 17:55
  • 1
    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. Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 19:20
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Anyhoo is a 'cutesy' pronunciation of the alternative anyhow.
    – Angelos
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 0:20

3 Answers 3

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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
    Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 2:57
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    The NOAD reports anyways as informal or dialectal.
    – apaderno
    Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 2:58
  • @kiamlaluno: Well it is now, yes. My point was that the original addition seems to just be a corruption.
    – Orbling
    Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 12:19
  • I grew up around this usage, and it was not at all an intentional affectation. Some people who used it were aware that it is deprecated in formal communication, but for many it just was the correct word. I strongly suspect there was some other linguistic process at work to arrive at this conclusion besides "trying to sound cool".
    – 1006a
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 17:05
  • In this long web serial I'm reading, I was cool with "anyways" appearing all the time in the first person narrator's POV, as she's a teen in the U.S. . But when it came from dialog from government agents or other adult/authority figures, it shook my immersion. I realized it was just the only version this author knew. (I admit that subjunctive not being used by educated characters also annoys me.) Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 13:04
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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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  • A slight distinction that I've noticed (at least in my region), is that anyways is less formal and will be used more in unimportant conversation of the type, "What's going on with this weather, anyways?" - In other words "Why did he move there anyways?" I would imagine as an idle conversation topic where it might just be asked out of sheer boredom, while "Why did he move there anyway?" is more like, "I've wondered about this before and I'd like to know badly enough to aim the stream of conversation in that direction" No "real" difference, but mentally it has a slightly different feel. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 16:11
  • One should be aware that anyway(s) is informal anywheres.
    – vectory
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 8:56
-1

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. (OED "Any road: chiefly English regional (northern and midlands); at any rate, in any case. =anyway 2a and 2d [respectively the usual adverbial sense, and 'used to end a conversation, change topic, or return to a topic after interruption'.] Also any road up." Citations from 1855 to 2000.)

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  • It's not quite equally sensible. Without further evidence any road might be an unintentionally funny derivation. I'm hellbent on insisting that Ger wegen is cognate, loosely translating weswegen as "what way", though it's actually just "why, what for, for what reason". Compare equivalently for and fare, Ger "fahren" (drive) Erfahrung "experience"; But also erwägen "to reason", wagen "to dare*, Wagen "car, wagon", Wiege "cradle", wiegen "to weigh", Waage "scales", Quelle "source", Lat quat "what", quis "how" (cp Ger gewiss, equiv. co*+*whit); ...
    – vectory
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 9:20
  • Compare further En wheel, Proto-Indo-European *kweklos, Ger Rad, Lat rota, roto; Compare further PIE *kwetwores whence En four.
    – vectory
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 9:23