0

I want to say something like: from now on I will work on my second task.

Is it correct to use "onward" (just onward) at the beginning of the sentence to replace "from now on"?

Onward, I will work on my second task.

Edit: To give context to this sentence (requested on the comments) - the sentence should express future plans in a sequence of events (which is tasks completions). By future plans I don't set a specific time in the future but wish to imply to the near future - in an hour, by tomorrow etc.

Something like: "I have now completed my first task, and I am about to start my work on the second task."

  • make it plural Onwards, I will work on my second task. – user150753 Dec 31 '18 at 17:44
  • 2
    @Jeeped: That s isn't a "plural". But thanks for making the comment, which prompted me to look deeper into the issue. You're quite right that onwards with an s is far more common for this exact context, but I was truly surprised to find that the evidence from Google NGrams on this one shows that unlike all other similar usages, this is one where the preference is the same on both sides of the pond. But I have no idea why this exact context should be different. It certainly wasn't something I expected to find. – FumbleFingers Dec 31 '18 at 18:18
  • Onward, Chistian soldiers! – Jason Bassford Dec 31 '18 at 18:23
  • 2
    For a single-word replacement of "from now on", you could use "henceforth". – Hellion Dec 31 '18 at 20:56
  • 1
    @Hellion I'm not convinced that "henceforth" expresses the intended meaning here. Nor am I sure about "onward(s)" either. Both would seem to apply to something you intend to do in perpetuity. But here we are simply talking about "my second task". One wouldn't normally say "Henceforth/onwards I will write a letter", but one might say "Henceforth/onwards I will give up eating kippers in bed". – WS2 Jan 1 '19 at 0:39
3

Onward sounds odd and is uncommon at the start of a sentence.

Here's the definition of onward in the Oxford English Dictionary, adverb, entry 4b.

In an uninterrupted advance or succession forward in time. Cf. on adv. 4a.

The definition of on referred to is the same on used in the adverbial phrase "from now on." So the two have some relation to one another.

My issue with your example is that "onward" isn't an adverb commonly used at the beginning of a sentence to modify that entire sentence. In the Corpus of Contemporary American English, it appears at the beginning of the sentence in a different sense: proceeding forward in space to a destination. "Onward!" appears. "Onward to [some goal]" appears. "Onward [people being urged forward]" appears. No start-of-sentence "Onward, I ..." formation appears. The closest that appears is "from that moment onward, I ..." That last usage highlights that, when "onward" is used in a temporal sense as an adverb at the start of a sentence, it tends to be incorporated into an adverbial phrase that gives more context. So in usage, onward at the start of a sentence usually comes with some extra information: from what or to what?

Given that evidence, I would use "from now on" if I wanted to be perceived as correct and "onward" only if I had some deliberate purpose in mind.

| improve this answer | |
2

No, the cited usage is not idiomatic. Use something like From now onwards, I will do that.

If you compare AmE and BrE corpuses on that link, you'll see that both massively favour onwards over onward in that exact context - which I found interesting, given that AmE always favours toward over towards (with Brits it's the other way around).

A bit more sniffing around showed me that Brits are about equally divided over whether to include the s or not in a "phrasal verb" context such as to move onward / onwards - but in that context, Americans much more definitely prefer to move onward.

So regardless of what you read about the "standard" US/UK distinction (telling us that the "s-less" versions toward, upward, downward, onward are used in AmE, whereas towards, upwards, downwards, onwards are "British"), this doesn't seem to be true for OP's exact context (from now / then onwards).

| improve this answer | |
  • There is nothing wrong with the sentence as it is. Saying that you must change it is too prescriptive. It would be more commonly used in a changed form, but it's certainly not ungrammatical if left alone. – Jason Bassford Dec 31 '18 at 18:26
  • I did specifically say "not idiomatic", not "not grammatical". But in deference to your point, I've changed my potentially overprescriptive "You need... " to a mere recommendation. But I have to say that the exact cited usage is so non-idiomatic it would be unwise to encourage a nns to think it could be in any way "acceptable". You can validly start a sentence with onward(s) in contexts like imperative Onward Christian soldiers! or Onward we marched, where it denotes "direction", but not when it's a "temporal" reference. – FumbleFingers Jan 1 '19 at 13:20
0

Is it correct to use "onward" (just onward) at the beginning of the sentence to replace "from now on"?

Onward, I will work on my second task.

Yes, it is grammatically correct, as is the more used onwards.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.