You may not be aware, but some people get as worked up about anyways as others do when literally is used in a figurative sense. They claim that anyways isn’t a real word, and that the correct form of this word is always anyway. But is this true? Is anyways a valid word or not? Below, we’ll discuss the difference between these two words, explain when to use anyways or anyway, and go over their close cousin, any way.
“Anyway” vs. “Anyways”
Anyway is an adverb that means “in any case,” and “without regard to other considerations.”
I had a headache but finished the game anyway.
Anyway is also sometimes used when “adding something to support an idea or argument.”
You shouldn’t drive in this weather, and didn’t you leave your wallet at mom’s house, anyway?
It’s not uncommon for anyway to be used during a conversation either to end it, return to the subject, or change the subject altogether.
Anyway, back to what I was saying, I don’t think taking a road trip is a good idea.
Nowadays, it’s common for anyways to be used in the last sense. In other words, it’s often used during a shift in a conversation.
We decided to paint her room in a lilac color. But anyways, we won’t be moving out until the end of the year.
Anyways is considered the newer, informal, and colloquial version of anyway. And although the consensus is that it is informal and should only be used in casual speech, it’s actually not a new word at all. According to Merriam-Webster, anyways has been around for over 800 years.
Its earliest usage can be traced back to the 13th century and referred to “in any manner or respect.” The use of anyways wasn’t a fluke or typo. It can be found used consistently for several centuries.
In conversation, anyways can also be used in a snarky, sarcastic, and dismissive manner.
What About “Any Way”?
In the phrase any way, any is a determiner and way is a noun. It can mean “regardless of the path chosen”:
You can come any way you want, what matters is that you’re here on time.
In the sentence above, any way refers to the physical route or manner of arriving somewhere.
Any way can also mean “however possible”:
You can help set up for the party any way you want.
If you’re uncertain whether you should use anyway or any way, try substituting any with in the. If the sentence still makes sense, then the two-word phrase is the option you should use. For example, the two example sentences above could be rewritten to say:
You can come in the way you want. What matters is that you’re here on time.
You can help set up the party in the way you want.
Anyway, Here’s a Tip if You Want Flawless Writing
Perhaps you’ve heard of the quote that reads, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” This is the same mindset one should hold when it comes to anyways or anyway. Knowledge is knowing anyways is technically a word. Wisdom is knowing not to include it in formal writing.
But because anyways is so often used in casual speech, it’s easy for it to slip into anyone’s writing. That’s why you should always use LanguageTool as your writing assistant. Not only will this multilingual text editor recommend anyway over anyways, but it’ll also correct spelling and grammar mistakes and provide stylistic improvements.