Is anyways a word? Yes, it is. No, it isn’t. You and a friend might disagree. Why not settle it once and for all? Is anyways a word or not? If so, how does it differ from anyway? How do you use it? And if it isn’t a word, how did the debate start?

Let’s start with anyway since everyone agrees that it’s a word. It means nonetheless or regardless.

Though my mother forbade me, I ate the chocolate chip cookie anyway.

It can also be used to signal the continuation of an interrupted story.

Anyway, I was telling you about the diet I am starting on Monday.

The Random House Dictionary includes a usage note about the adverb anyway spelled as one or two words. If it’s two words, it means “in any manner.” For example, I can live any way I want to. You should be able to substitute “in the” for “any” in a two-word phrase. I can live in the way I want to. If you can’t make the switch, you need to use anyway as a single word.

That settled, let’s go on to anyways. If you search for it in a dictionary, you will likely find it. Next to the entry, though, you will see a designation of nonstandard, colloquial, or archaic. Merriam-Webster identifies anyways as an archaic corruption of anywise, an expression meaning “in any way whatsoever.” In Old and Middle English, it was quite common to end adverbs in -s. We still have always and unawares. British English retains the -s in towards. So anyways isn’t too farfetched.

The most common use of anyways is in colloquial speech or informal writing. It is synonymous with anyway, or it can mean “to any degree at all.” In a 2009 New York Times article, journalist Clyde Haberman used anyways. He also used expressions such as “come on,” “no ways,” and “Go ahead, make my day.” It’s apparent that his intent was to sound informal.

If you want to avoid debate or write in a formal tone, use the standard anyway. But if you don’t mind sounding informal, or you are aiming for a down-to-earth tone like Clyde Haberman, it’s okay to use anyways. It is a word—a nonstandard, colloquial, informal word—that some people won’t like to see. You can’t please everyone all the time anyways, can you?