Word Confusion: Afterward(s) versus Afterword

Posted May 5, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 14 October 2017

This is actually one of those minor word confusions. Minor because an afterword does occur afterwards, however the afterword sums things up or provides additional or new information while afterward explains where or when it appears.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Afterward(s) Afterword
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: afterward and afterword; Dictionary.com: afterward and afterword

“Do Nothing Then Rest Afterwards” courtesy of Dianna Amorde at Inspired Leap

And in the afterword, we learn how the characters live on.

Part of Grammar:

Alternative spelling: afterward [U.S.]

Plural: afterwords
At a later or succeeding time



After something has happened

A final section that comes after the main part of a book


A concluding section, commentary, etc., as of a book, treatise, or the like

Closing statement

He found out about it long afterward.

Afterward, she got a promotion.

The offender was arrested shortly afterwards.

The novel has a foreword by an eminent critic and an afterword by the author herself.

The author included an afterword about developments in cancer treatment since the book was written.

Nonfiction authors sometimes conclude their books with an afterword explaining what has happened since they did their research.

History of the Word:
First known use: before 1000

Old English æfterweard or æfteweard, from aft + ward.

First known use: 1890

A Saxonist substitute for epilogue, which is from after + word.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Pink Beary Love by Coffee is under the CC0 public domain, via Pixabay.

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